Almost everyone loves cheese, and let's face it -- it makes just about everything better, from warm, gooey, bubbling pizza to creamy, crunchy canolis. Most of us could eat it for every single meal if we could get away with it. But scientists now say that they have figured out why it's so hard to keep ourselves from piling our plates high with second and third helpings from the cheese board -- the fatty treat is basically a drug.
It turns out that cheese triggers the same part of your brain as hard drugs do. Casein, a protein that is found in all dairy products but is highly concentrated in cheese, causes your brain's opioid receptors to fire like crazy. In general, the more processed and fatty the food is, the more addictive people find it -- that's why it's so hard to get addicted to kale and green beans.
Actually, the average person eats approximately 35 pounds of cheese a year. But there's no evidence that the casein in cheese affects us the way drugs do, so don't check yourself into rehab yet.
We might all be addicted to cheese in the sense that we like it tremendously and probably eat a little more than we should, but there's no reason to swear yourself off of it completely if your body handles dairy well. Small doses of cheese are actually good for you -- it has tons of calcium, protein and vitamins. But the trick is to cut down on the fatty treat and use it as a condiment, not the main course.