Cheese is high in fat, yet doesn't appear to raise cholesterol?


Despite being high in saturated fat, some studies have found that a higher intake of cheese can actually help to lower cholesterol levels. — TNS

Wendy M from Tucson, Arizona (in the United States), writes: "I have recently read that a study has concluded that cheese does not raise cholesterol levels.

"So is it now OK to eat as much cheese (read: pizza) as we want?"

I’m not sure I have the answer to that question yet, Wendy.

But some surprising results about the health effects of cheese (and other high-fat dairy foods) have surfaced from recent research.

Cheese is high in saturated fat, which is generally associated with higher cholesterol levels.

Yet, some studies have found that a higher intake of cheese actually lowered cholesterol.

A 2015 Swedish study published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research, for example, compared the health effects of three diets:

  • One that included high-fat Gouda cheese
  • One with a fat- and salt-free traditional Norwegian cheese called Gamalost, and
  • A control group with limited cheese intake.

After eight weeks, the researchers found no differences in cholesterol levels between the high- or low-fat cheese diets, compared to the control group.

Most intriguing was the people in the trial with metabolic syndrome who ate the high-fat cheese diet had significantly lower cholesterol levels at the end of the study. (Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.)

A 2021 technical review of this phenomenon in the International Journal of Dairy Technology states: “Current research suggests that for dairy foods and cheese in particular, a matrix effect exists, whereby the other components present interact with the overall structure, leading to health benefits.”

Stay tuned. – By Barbara Intermill/Tribune News Service

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist in the US.

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Cheese , cholesterol


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