From Camembert to Gouda, Brie to Manchego, cheese might be my favourite thing of all. I don’t think it is any coincidence that the perfect partner for the best food in the world just so happens to be the best drink in the world — wine. Don’t judge me, I know I'm not middle-aged yet but I love a cheese and wine night. The only bad thing is the guilt you come away with afterwards — cheese isn't known for being the healthiest of foods after all. But the results of some new research could change all that. Wait, what? Is cheese good for you?
Growing up the magazines, women’s panels, and terrifying diet shows send out the message that carbs and dairy were the enemy. It was as if the only way to shed a couple of pounds was to go completely dairy and carb free. However, a study may have turned all of these assumptions on their head. Research published in scientific journal The Lancet found that cheese, as well as other full fat dairy products like milk and butter, may actually be better for you than low fat equivalents. It also suggests that eating full fat dairy products could be healthier than cutting them out of your diet entirely.
The study monitored the dietary intake of 136,384 people from 21 different countries for nine years. This is serious research all in the name of cheese. It found that, “Dairy consumption was associated with lower risk of mortality and major cardiovascular disease events in a diverse multinational cohort.”
So what does this mean for us, the cheese-loving general public? Well, researchers found that people who ate three servings of dairy a day were less likely to suffer a major stroke or develop cardiovascular disease than those who ate no dairy at all. A "serving" equates to three teaspoons of butter, three glasses of milk or a 15 gram slice of cheese. Sounds like a winner to me, I'll feel much happier when I'm slathering Philadelphia all over my morning bagel now.
This research isn’t just important because gives everyone the green light to feast on as much Roquefort as possible, it also challenges established dietary advice. The study concludes, “Dietary guidelines recommend minimising consumption of whole-fat dairy products, as they are a source of saturated fats and presumed to adversely affect blood lipids and increase cardiovascular disease and mortality. Evidence for this contention is sparse.”
However, you may want to hold off organising the cheese and wine night to end all cheese and wine nights for now. Researchers weren't able to conclusively conclude that increased dairy consumption was the sole reason for a decrease in cardiovascular diseases.
This isn’t the first study to suggest that cheese might not be as unhealthy as many people think. Research conducted by the University of Texas also found no link between full fat dairy products and heart disease. It concluded, “our research adds to a growing body of evidence showing no harm in relation to heart disease or overall mortality associated with consumption of whole-fat dairy foods.”
Researchers have even developed a cheese matrix (the tastiest kind of matrix) published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They found that adults who were considered to be overweight who ate full-fat cheddar experienced a reduction in their cholesterol compared to people eating reduced fat cheese or butter.
Well, if this isn’t giving you all the excuses you need to go out there and live your best cheese life then I don’t know what will. I’m not saying head to your fridge immediately and start munching on some cheddar straight from the block, but just know that next time you fancy clearing a whole cheese board in a matter of minutes, you can do so worry-free.