NEW YORK, Mar 16: Cheese lovers rejoice! A new study has shown that those delicious bites of cheddar and brie might not be as bad for us as previously thought.
According to research carried out at University College Dublin, people who eat a lot of cheese do not have higher cholesterol levels than those who don’t.
Scientists set out to examine the impact of dairy foods – including milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream and butter – on body fat and health. Currently, health guidelines warn that consuming foods high in saturated fats, like cheese, can increase your risk of developing high blood cholesterol – a main risk factor in heart disease and strokes.
The sample was made up of 1,500 Irish participants aged between 18 and 90. Commenting on the results, lead paper author Dr Emma Feeney said:
“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.”
LDL cholesterol is a substance found in blood that helps the body to function properly at healthy levels. However, too much LDL cholesterol can cause problems by sticking to the walls of arteries, in turn raising the risk of heart problems. So a lack of difference between the participating groups is good news for cheese fans, and goes against the generally accepted view of saturated fats (outlined above).
In addition to this, a higher dairy intake was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI), lower percentage of body fat, lower waist size and lower blood pressure.
However, Dr Feeney did go on to stress the importance of enjoying dairy as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
“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.”
In another surprising find, it was also discovered that people who regularly consumed low-fat milk and yoghurt tended to display a higher carb intake and greater LDL cholesterol levels.