When Choosing Cheese, Low-Fat May Not Matter

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Regular-fat cheese may be as healthy a choice as the low-fat version.

In a 12-week study paid for by dairy industry organizations in Denmark and other countries, Danish researchers divided 139 volunteers into three groups. The first replaced part of their daily diet with three ounces of regular-fat cheese — cheddar and other varieties ranging from 25 percent to 32 percent fat content. The second ate three ounces of low-fat cheese containing 13 percent to 16 percent fat. A control group replaced part of their diet with bread and jam. They gave blood samples for analysis before and after the 12-week period.

At the end of the study, researchers found no difference in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, triglycerides, insulin, fasting glucose or any of seven other measures of blood chemistry among the three groups. Nor were there any significant changes in body weight.

There was a small increase in HDL (“good” cholesterol) in the group that ate regular-fat cheese. The study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The lead author, Farinaz Raziani, a Ph.D. student at the University of Copenhagen, said that the finding might not apply to other dairy products and that “the neutral effect of cheese on cholesterol concentrations still needs to be elucidated.”

Still, she added, “It is reasonable to include regular-fat cheese as part of a healthy diet.”