Sunday 17 December 2017

People who eat more cheese are thinner, Irish study shows

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Rachel Hosie

It’s the news everyone’s been waiting for. Well, maybe everyone bar vegans and the lactose-intolerant.

Salty halloumi, creamy burrata, stringy mozzarella, smelly stilton, melty camembert, crumbly feta or trusty old cheddar, there’s a cheese (or ten) for all of us.

As delicious as it is, the sad truth is that cheese has for long been thought of as not very healthy.

However, a new study has found that cheese is in fact better for us than previously accepted - or at least not as bad.

The research from University College Dublin has concluded that people who eat a lot of cheese are thinner than those who don’t, and it doesn’t actually raise cholesterol levels.

Scientists studied the impact of eating dairy products - milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and cream - on 1,500 people aged between 18 and 90.

They found that the people who consumed the most dairy had lower BMIs, lower body fat percentages, smaller waists and lower blood pressure.

What’s more the participants who ate low-fat dairy tended to have higher cholesterol levels.

This goes against current health advice which advocates limiting intake of saturated fats (found in cheese) to keep cholesterol levels down - high blood cholesterol is strongly linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study reinforces recent research from various countries which has suggested that saturated fat from cheese doesn’t increase blood cholesterol levels because of the unique set of nutrients it contains.

“What we saw was that in the high consumers [of cheese] they had a significantly higher intake of saturated fat than the non-consumers and the low consumers and yet there was no difference in their LDL Cholesterol levels,” said study lead author Dr Emma Feeney.

“We have to consider not just the nutrients themselves but also the matrix in which we are eating them in and what the overall dietary pattern is, so not just about the food then, but the pattern of other foods we eat with them as well.”

Interestingly, the researchers found that those who ate more cheese also consumed more carbohydrates.

Two of the study’s authors declared that they had previously been paid speaking fees from Ireland's National Dairy Council, but the others declared no conflict of interest.

Fondue, anyone?

Independent News Service

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