The reason why cheese is an addictive food

Cheese is one of the most appetizing and attractive foods. In 2018 alone, more than 345 million kilos were consumed in Spain, an average of 7.38 per person, according to data from the Interprofessional Lactic Organization (INLAC). But we could say that this food has some "negative effects" in one of its components that make it very addictive. We tell you why.


Manchego, mozzarella, brie, parmesan, roquefort, feta … The cheese is very varied and offers possibilities both to those who prefer softer flavors and those who prefer the strong ones. Therefore, if you have ever wondered why this food is essential, you probably have deduced that it is because of its flavor. Or, perhaps, for its prominence in some of the most desired dishes: Pizza, pasta, sauces, hamburgers or desserts. Of course all that has something to do and, in fact, according to this study, there is evidence that the most processed foods are much more related to food addiction.

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However, this is not the main reason why cheese is one of the most addictive foods. Apparently, the culprit of this is a protein called casein. According to experts, this protein present in cheese releases casomorphine during digestion, a substance, also present in breast milk, which is structurally similar to endorphins and generates a feeling of well-being. It is also related to pain control and reward.

And why is cheese more addictive than milk? Easy: approximately 10 liters of milk are needed to make a kilo of cheese, so the casein concentration is much higher. This "addiction" is exacerbated if the cheese is highly processed.

So is cheese good or bad?

You may be wondering if knowing that it is addictive, it is about a healthy food or not. In this sense, the most important thing is choose a good cheese and avoid the consumption of those that are ultraprocessed and include poor quality ingredients. Notice that it contains milk, salt, lactic ferments and rennet. Thus, it is best to discard those that contain refined oils, dyes or other additives.

Of course, the amount of cheese consumed is also important. It's about a caloric and high fat food, especially in its cured versions, so it is advisable to adapt the amounts to the needs of each person and not abuse. Food and nutrition specialists, Elena Pérez and María Hernández Alcalá de Futurlife21, recommend bet on cheeses and other less fatty dairy products such as burgos for daily food and the most fatty for a more occasional consumption, about two or three times a week. All this, always in the right proportions.

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