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Why Cheese Matters To You

 A study on food cravings shows cheese is the most addictive of all natural foods.

| BY Kent McDill

As obesity among Americans remains a concern for health officials and the families of those obese people, the nature of eating in this country undergoes extensive testing and study.

While it is true Americans eat too much fatty food, and eat too often out of habit or boredom, studies now show that some American eating habits are a result of addiction.

Food can be addictive, and that’s why scientists at Yale University and the University of Michigan have developed the Yale Food Addiction Scale.

Among food without additives, the most addictive of them all is cheese.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has published the latest study from the Yale Food Addiction Scale showing that processed foods can be addictive depending on what is added to the product. But cheese tops the list of foods that are addicting without benefit of chemical assistance.

 Among processed foods, the more processed and fatty the food, the more it is likely a part of addictive eating behaviors. But cheese has a component that is especially addictive without assistance. That component is casein, a protein found in all milk products, and when casein is digested, it releases an opiate called casomorphins.

“(They) really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,’’ said registered dietitian Cameron Wells in an interview with Mic.

The study was conducted upon 520 willing participants who were split into two groups. The first group was simply asked to list the foods they found most addictive, and the second group added a rating of how tough it would be for them to give up each of the 35 foods on the original list.

The top five most addictive foods were pizza, chocolate, potato chips, cookies and ice cream. Those five were all considered “processed’’ by researchers as were the next four. Cheese came in at No. 10 and is considered unprocessed (with the exception of American cheese).

“In a similar manner that drugs are processed to increase their addictive potential, this study provides insight that highly processed foods may be intentionally manufactured to be particularly rewarding through the addition of fat and refined carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar,’’ the study stated.

Bacon showed up at No. 11, immediately after cheese. Among other natural foods, nuts was ranked 19th, strawberries came in at No. 26, corn was No. 27 (without butter and salt, by the way), and broccoli was No. 30.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.