Is cheese bad for your health?
New research finds that eating cheese may reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease
If you have a cheese fetish and feel guilty after devouring a hefty wedge of brie off the cheese platter fear not I have good news! It has long been thought that eating cheese leads to obesity and heart disease but this is simply a myth. This belief stems from outdated and flawed studies and has been perpetuated by decades of low fat food misleading marketing claims.
Many recent studies have confirmed that saturated fat has no association with obesity or heart disease and recent studies now suggest that saturated fat and regular cheese consumption may decrease the risks of heart disease and strokes. Interestingly the Mediterranean diet which consists of fresh produce, a high fruit and vegetable intake, red wine and cheese has proven time and time again to be the healthiest diet in the world with the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease.
The main primary dietary factors leading to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even some cancers is overconsumption of sugar, refined highly processed foods and lack of exercise.
Eating cheese as part of a healthy balanced diet may actually protect us from disease. A recent study from the Soochow University in China shows that eating cheese may be beneficial rather than harmful to the heart. In fact munching through 40grams of cheese daily can dramatically cut the chances of developing heart disease by a staggering 14%. Another study conducted in the UK earlier in 2017 found that almost 1 million people had no increased risk of heart disease after regular cheese consumption.
The exact cause of the lowered risk of heart disease has yet to be determined however cheese contains a variety of important nutrients including -
• Saturated fats and omega-3 fats (cheese from grass fed cows contains the exact ratio of essential fats required for good health in the ration of omega 6 : omega 3 being 2 : 1.
• Protein and amino acids
•Important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, D3, B2 (riboflavin) and B12
•Conjugated linoleic acid, a powerful anti inflammatory cancer-fighter
The rich nutrient profile of cheese is thought to be what helps protect the body from heart disease, in particular the vitamin K2 content. Vitamin K2 is found in cheese, egg yolks, dairy products and fermented foods. The function of vitamin K2 is to assist the uptake of calcium and it helps to protect against calcium depositing where it is not required such as calcification of the arteries. This could well be the main reason cheese is proving to have such a protective benefits against heart disease combined with its rich fat soluble nutrient profile and vitamin B12 (another important vitamin to protect against cardiovascular disease).
The cheesemaking processes and starter cultures are what give each variety of cheese its particular taste and nutritional benefits.
Whilst all cheese contains health benefits the cheeses that contain the richest sources of Vitamin K2 in descending order are:
So enjoy your cheese and don’t feel guilty about the rich soft delectable brie we once thought was bad for our health. Around 40g per day is a healthy amount of cheese to consume which equates to a couple of slices of cheese or a piece the size of a match box.