Is Cheese Healthy?

In general, most dairy foods are recommended as they as rich in vitamins and contain minerals like calcium. But what about cheese? Cheese is not a novel food product by any means and almost every week the virtues of eating cheese are promoted by manufacturers. Some studies claim that regular cheese consumption can prevent heart attacks; others claim that it can cut down diabetes and so on. But with all that fat content, what is the truth about cheese?

A recent study reveals that cheese may actually prevent heart attacks. This latest study published in the European Journal of Nutrition observed a link between consumption of cheese and a lowered risk of stroke and heart disease.

In this study, researchers looked at how diet impacts the health of more than 200,000 participants from 15 studies that were conducted in the US and Europe. The researchers observed that individuals who consumed a small serving of cheese (about the size of a box of matches) regularly had a 14% lower risk of heart disease. The risk of stroke was also reduced by 10% in individuals who regularly consume cheese.

It is important to understand that these findings are based on a study that was purely observational in nature. Many factors such as exercise, body weight, prior heart disease, family history, and smoking were not considered when evaluating the results.

It could be that perhaps the people who had a lowered risk of heart disease and stroke also ate a plant-based diet and were vegetarians. Many studies on plant-based diets have shown that these diets are associated with a lowered risk of heart disease compared to meat diets.

Whatever the factors may be, the question is: how much cheese should one eat? An older study conducted in 2015 revealed that 3 servings of low-fat dairy is beneficial for bone health and should not result in an increase in body fat. This study indicated that not only are dairy foods rich in calcium but are relatively inexpensive. Plus, a diet of low-fat dairy is also rich in protein and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

Unfortunately, no study to date has been able to establish the specific benefits of low-fat dairy on our overall health. Therefore, it is generally recommended that while there is no harm in consuming cheese and low-fat dairy, it should still be done in moderation and should be accompanied by an overall healthy and active lifestyle.