Cheese is among the most beloved of foods. How could it be otherwise with thousands of varieties to choose from? And it is a food that can be eaten raw or cooked in so many ways, on sandwiches, with bread and crackers, or just plain. It goes with wine, or beer, or, well, some cheese or other really goes with almost everything.
Yet, some people hesitate. They have heard bad things related to healthfulness but, increasingly, the research is vindicating what cheese advocates have long contended — that there is little to be afraid of. Newsweek recently ran a piece titled, Eating Cheese Doesn’t Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke:
Eating cheese and other dairy products does not lead to an increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke, scientists have said.
In a large-scale analysis, researchers found no association between how much cheese, yogurt and milk products people consume and their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, in one study analyzed, cheese appeared to be linked with a slightly lower risk of CVD.
In a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, scientists at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) at the University of Reading, England, analyzed 29 studies representing almost 1 million people and 93,000 deaths.
Within these studies, the team focused on diet—specifically whether they were high or low in dairy products—and the rate of CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. Analysis included data on 938,465 participants, 93,158 deaths, 28,419 cases of CHD and 25,416 of CVD.
Their findings showed no association between a diet high in dairy products and the risk of CVD, CHD or death. “This meta-analysis combining data from 29 prospective cohort studies showed there were no associations between total dairy, high- and low-fat dairy, milk and the health outcomes including all-cause mortality, CHD or CVD,” they wrote.
“Further analyses of individual fermented dairy of cheese and yogurt showed cheese to have a two percent lower risk of CVD per 10 g/day, but not yogurt.”
The science is never settled on these things, and further research may well point to more dramatic benefits from eating cheese. But the current state of the science is clear: those who shy away from cheese because they fear adverse health consequences are the ones allowing their actions to be driven by superstition and fear. Those who feel themselves free to sample the incredible delight that comes with eating a variety of excellent specialty cheese are the ones who can claim the mantle of science.