A recent study from the University of Michigan shed light on the most addictive foods. Unsurprisingly, pizza tops the list. The foods causing this addiction all have a connection: they are processed foods. On the other hand, so-called “natural” foods such as salmon or brown rice do not lead to addictive behavior, unlike fries or crisps for example.
Many industrial or so-called processed foods have one thing in common: fat! In the list of fat-based foods, foods made with cheese are always at the top, including the famous number one: pizza. This one, in addition to containing sugar from tomato sauce and crunchy carbohydrates that activate our dopamine receptors (often linked to addiction), also has a specific ingredient that will seem familiar to you: casein.
But why casein?
Cheese, a very concentrated form of dairy, has a source of protein specific to dairy products, casein. This breaks down during digestion releasing peptides called casomorphins. Numerous studies have shown that casomoprhins interact with opioid receptors which are involved in the control of pain, reward and addiction in the brain.