October 23, 2015 12:36 PM

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We always knew there was something chemical about our hopeless obsession with cheese.

A new study from the University of Michigan that examined over 500 foods — and their addictiveness — found that cheese is particularly addictive due to its casein content. Casein, a protein found in all dairy products, releases opiates called casomorphins during the process of digestion.

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That’s right. Cheese’s delicious butter-fatty goodness is not the sole reason why we think about/need/crave it all the time.

“[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,” registered dietitian Cameron Wells told Mic.

Unsurprisingly, pizza ranked pretty high on the list of addictive foods, largely due to its cheese content. The study, published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, also found that the more processed and fatty a food is, the more it inspires addictive eating.

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While there’s definitely power in awareness, we feel more discouraged than ever by the prospect of minimizing our cheese consumption, knowing the sort of odds we’re up against.

—Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda

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