WTF (what the fromage) is… all this about cheese being as addictive as heroin?

“Did you know that cheese is as addictive as heroin?”

I’m learning about cheese. I’m learning a lot about cheese. As is often the case, you do tend to give the textbooks a swerve and get drawn to little facts and statements which make for much more interesting reading. Instant gratification is, I’m afraid, something I’m rather keen on – along with a voracious appetite for too much cheese.

Sorry not sorry.

But what is it that keeps us coming back for more? Lots of things are delicious. Lots and lots of things, in fact. But what is it specifically about cheese? Delicious fatty, salty cheese. The halloumi that’s in my fridge. The soft, unctuous, welcoming reblochon that’s next to it that’s been in my mouth twice today – once in a sesame breakfast brioche with crispy pancetta, egg and chilli jam; and then again with a home-made burger, oozing through the Dijon mustard and all down my chin. We’ve all been there.

It’s often the downfall of many well-intentioned eaters looking to go fully plant-based. So why is cheese so addictive, exactly?

The answer is dopamine, and the release of dopamine is how our brains help us feel pleasure.

Protein helps increase our levels of dopamine. Guess which wonderful food contains up to 25% protein? I’m heading back to the fridge to get you a clue.

But where does the whole heroin thing come into it?

Cheese releases something called casomorphim. Casomorphim is an opioid that is released during the digestion of casein – one of the main components of cheese –  and it’s this casomorphim that attaches itself to the same brain receptors that heroin & morphine do, leading to a satisfying dopamine hit.