No need to ditch the good cheese to avoid high cholesterol

By Doug Bennett • Published: January 6th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Cheese lovers, rejoice: You don’t have to hold the Havarti or fear the Fontina anymore. Regular-fat cheese may be just as healthy as the low-fat versions, Danish researchers have found.

A study involving 139 people in Denmark and other countries found no difference in cholesterol and other blood-chemistry measures among people who ate high-fat and low-fat cheese. The findings were published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Here’s how the researchers made their conclusions. Participants were separated into three groups. One group ate three ounces of regular-fat cheese a day — cheddar and other cheeses that contained 25 percent to 32 percent fat. Another ate reduced-fat varieties of cheese, with fat contents ranging from 13 percent to 16 percent. A control group ate bread and jam in place of cheese.

After 12 weeks, there was no difference in levels of insulin, blood sugar, triglycerides or LDL — so-called “bad” cholesterol — among the participants. Neither group gained weight, and the people who ate the regular-fat cheese even had a small increase in HDL — known as “good” cholesterol.

The study was funded by dairy industry groups in Denmark and other European countries.

Still, the findings aren’t a license to start eating large wheels of cheese. While the study appeared to establish that cheese does not spike blood-cholesterol levels, researchers at the University of Copenhagen noted that there needs to be further study of that issue. Regular-fat cheeses, they concluded, can be a part of a balanced diet.

So, pass the guilt-free cheese, please.