There's a lot of conflicting information about what will help you live forever and what will take years off your life. If you were devastated by previous reports that cheese could ultimately contribute to your demise, new research indicates that cheese might be good you after all. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the fats found in cheese and other dairy products — like whole milk — don't put cheese devotees at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke than non-cheese eaters.
If you're lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, you'll probably still want to avoid it. However, this study suggests that avoiding it for heart health won't be all that helpful. "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," Marcia Otto, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, said in an interview with Medical Research. What's more, the study also found that one of three fatty acids present in dairy fat was actually linked to lower risk of stroke among older adults. So, if your body doesn't have issues digesting cheese, and you like to have a nice shmear of brie after a hard day, go for it.
Dr. Otto noted that further research is warranted, but she cautioned against reporting dangers of certain foods based on limited information. "Making judgments about food healthfulness based on one nutrient alone may lead to confusion and misinformation. When it comes to healthy eating patterns, it is very important not to select or avoid any food based on a single nutrient, but to look at the food as a whole."
As with anything, it's best to practice moderation with your love of cheese. Just because cheese and other whole-milk dairy products might not contribute to certain diseases later in life, that doesn't mean an all cheese diet will let you live forever; everyone still needs a good balance of fats, proteins, carbs, and other nutrients that fuel our bodies.
Case in point, coffee and wine. If you drink an entire pot of coffee, you're likely going to feel a little (OK, a lot) off. Overdoing it with wine is going to lead to a nasty headache, and too much cheese could leave you constipated. And, let's be honest, there are few things worse than not being able to poop.
The main takeaway from this study seems to be that research is ongoing, and conclusions can change over time. This means that findings should be taken with a grain of salt until studies are replicated to provide definitive results.
"These findings in older adults need to be confirmed and further investigated in other populations in order to strengthen the body of evidence on this important issue," Dr. Otto explained. "Also, further research is needed to better understand potential mechanisms linking dairy fat and fatty acids present in dairy to stroke development."
While studies on things like smoking have been replicated several times over, and scientists can say with certainty that smoking can lead to lung cancer, it's too early to say definitively whether or not cheese actually decreases your risk of stroke. But the good news is that these new findings indicate that it doesn't make you any more likely to develop health issues later in life. Cheese on, my friendlies.