Eating half a block of cheese a day LOWERS a person’s cholesterol

Eating half a block of cheese a day LOWERS a person’s cholesterol

Forget what you’ve heard, eating half a block of full-fat cheese daily for 6 weeks LOWERS your cholesterol: New research contradicts the theory that cheddar and stilton raise heart attack risk

  • Eating 120g of full-fat cheese a day for six weeks lowers a person’s cholesterol
  • Previous claims state cheese is high in saturated fat, which blocks arteries
  • Full-fat cheese lowers cholesterol more than low-fat or other forms of dairy
  • Due to ‘cheese matrix’, which is how nutrients such as calcium are arranged
  • Researcher states eating cheese in moderation is ‘not going to do any harm’ 
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Eating half a block of full-fat cheese a day lowers a person’s so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, new research suggests.

Those who indulge in a 120g serving of full-fat cheese every day for six weeks have significantly lower bad cholesterol levels than those who opt for low-fat alternatives, a study found.

This contradicts previous claims that cheese, such as cheddar and stilton, can block a person’s arteries because they are high in saturated fat, increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack.

Full-fat cheese is thought to lower cholesterol more than other forms of dairy, such as butter, due to the way its nutrients, like calcium and the protein casein, are arranged in the ‘cheese matrix’.

Lead author Dr Emma Feeney, from University College Dublin, said: ‘We need to stop thinking about foods in terms of their fat and their saturated fat content, and thinking about them as a whole food.’

Although Dr Feeney does not recommend people eat a 120g portion of cheese every day, she adds: ‘The recommended portions of cheese are not going to do you any harm.’

Eating half a block of cheese a day lowers a person’s so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol levels (stock)

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A handful of walnuts a day may prevent heart disease and bowel cancer, research suggested in May 2018.

Eating just a third of a cup of walnuts for six weeks significantly reduces the production of excess bile acids, as well as lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, a study found.

Previous research has linked such bile acids to bowel cancer, while lower cholesterol levels are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Researchers believe walnuts’ high-fibre content encourages the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which benefits people’s heart and colon health.

The scientists also found that despite walnuts being relatively high in calories, with around 28 per nut, only 80 per cent of them are absorbed, with gut bacteria using up the remaining 20 per cent.

Results further suggest people who eat a handful of walnuts a day produce less secondary bile acids, which are made in the bowel rather than the liver like their primary counterparts.

Lead author Professor Hannah Holscher, from the University of Illinois, said: ‘Secondary bile acids have been shown to be higher in individuals with higher rates of colorectal cancer.

‘Secondary bile acids can be damaging to cells within the GI tract and microbes make those secondary bile acids.

‘If we can reduce secondary bile acids in the gut, it may also help with human health.’

How the research was carried out

The researchers analysed 164 overweight volunteers aged 50 plus.

Forty six of the participants ate 120g of full-fat Irish cheese every day for six weeks, while 45 consumed a reduced fat Irish cheddar alongside 21g of butter.

Forty two of the volunteers ate 49g of butter, 30g of calcium caseinate powder and a 500mg calcium supplement.  Calcium caseinate is a protein produced from casein.

The remaining 31 participants ate no cheese for six weeks before the study started and were then given 120g of full-fat Irish cheese every day for the trial’s duration.

All of the participants were told to limit their milk intake to one more than 56g a day.

The study was partly funded by Irish dairy companies, however, the researchers are reported to have reached their conclusions independently.

Full-fat cheese lowers cholesterol more than low-fat alternatives

Results further suggest that while those who eat low-fat cheese, butter and dairy supplements also see their cholesterol levels decrease, the biggest reduction occurs among those who eat full-fat cheese.

The researchers believe this demonstrates that cheese eaten as a whole food rather than a supplement or as part of a reduced-fat diet may help keep a person’s arteries clear.

Dr Feeney told Business Insider: ‘We wouldn’t be able to conclusively say that from these results; but certainly it does look that way.’

Unlike other forms of dairy, cheese contains a membrane around each of its fatty acid droplets, which may be behind its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Findings further show there was no change in body weight or insulin levels between the study’s participants. There was also no change in the participants’ blood sugar levels first thing in the morning before they had eaten.

The findings were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This contradicts claims that cheese, such as cheddar and stilton, is high in saturated fat and therefore blocks a person’s arteries, increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack (stock)

Saturated fats in dairy do not increase the risk of heart disease

Previous research suggests saturated fats found in yoghurt, cheese, butter and milk do not increase the risk of heart disease.

Eating full-fat dairy actually reduces a person’s risk of dying from a stroke by 42 per cent, a study found.

Lead author Dr Marcia Otto, from the University of Texas, Houston, said: ‘Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults.

‘In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.’

Dietary guidelines in the US and UK recommend people people opt for low or no-fat dairy, however, the researchers warn such options are often high in sugar, which can drive heart disease.

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