Cheese is one of the world’s favorite foods, whether toasted, melted or plain. Most people eat it in spite of its potential unhealthiness due to its high calorie, fat and cholesterol content. However, eating cheese may not be the poor choice that we have previously believed. A new study has found that cheese may actually have surprising benefits. In fact, eating cheese protects heart health and may lower your risk of deadly cardiovascular disease.
Cholesterol and Heart Health
There are several solid reasons that cheese is often perceived as a negative health choice. First, it is high in calories and absolutely delicious. It is easy to gain weight eating a pleasing food that also is rich in nutrients. Because being overweight is a contributor to many diseases common in developed countries, many people are forgoing this and other calorically dense foods with good reason.
However, the main reason that many people avoid eating cheese is the high cholesterol content. It is well known that having high cholesterol can contribute to poor cardiovascular health in a variety of ways. It can increase the rate of serious diseases such as heart attack and stroke. While diet is not the only contributor to cholesterol levels, it can have a measurable impact. As a result, many people, especially those at risk of cardiovascular conditions, eat less cholesterol and less cheese.
Eating Cheese Protects Heart Health: Could it be True?
According to new research, cheese may not be bad for your health. In fact, it may produce a net benefit. This is good news for Americans particularly, who consume over 37 pounds of it every year.
A recent study compared the health of people who consume cheese on a regular basis as well as those who do not. This was not a small study, but rather a comparison of 200,000 people over 10 years. Surprisingly, eating cheese, around 40 grams a day, appears to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, people who eat cheese lower their risk of cardiovascular disease by a whopping 18 percent as well as a 14 percent lower risk of congestive heart disease and a 10 percent lower risk of stroke.
How Can Cheese Lower Heart Disease Risk?
It seems counter-intuitive that eating a high fat, high cholesterol food could lower cardiovascular disease risk. However, cheese is not only made of fat and cholesterol. It also is a rich source of nutrients that are often lacking in the modern diet. Cheese is a rich source of calcium and magnesium, two minerals that contribute to both bone strength and the activity of transmitters that are crucial to cardiovascular function. In addition, it is rich in CoQ10, an enzyme that acts as an antioxidant to help cells repair from daily insults. Cheese also contains B vitamins, lycopene, nattokinase and certain amino acids, all of which have been found to be important to cell health in general as well as good cardiovascular health.
When eaten in moderation, the benefits of cheese can outweigh the negative effects of cholesterol, fat and calories. While this is not permission to raid the cheese tray at your next holiday party, getting around 40 grams every day appears to be a very healthy and beneficial decision. As in many health matters, moderation appears to be crucial to getting the health effects of cheese without the downsides.
Heart Health Without the Cheese
While many Americans love cheese, others simply do not. In addition, many have given up cheese for special diets with other health effects. However, there are ways to get the benefits without the downfalls. Many supplements can give people the nutrients present in cheese without the downsides. In addition, people can seek out foods that are rich in these nutrients without the fat and cholesterol. Although we are not sure why cheese has such astounding health benefits, the nutrients are likely the answer. Here are a few ways to get the heart-healthy nutrients that you need:
- Be careful about portions. Portion size is crucial in getting the positives of certain foods without the negatives.
- Consider a supplement.
- Eat a wide variety of foods. This will ensure a variety of nutrients that support good health.
- Select less-processed foods. Processed foods often have more fats and sugars yet a lower amount of healthy nutrients.
- Be careful about calories. While it is important to take in a variety of nutrients, being overweight is a greater health risk that should be avoided.
- Choose healthy fats. We all need fats to survive and to feel satiated after meals, but plant fats and fish oils can be healthy where animal fats are not.