Cheese May Promote Heart Health
National Cheese Lover’s Day is Friday, January 20, 2017
One of the most exciting aspects of being a registered dietitian for the past 20 years or so is that new research is always being published. Promising new research on cheese and cardiovascular disease suggests the cheese you’ve enjoyed for years may help protect your heart.
Science isn’t as cut and dried as we would like it to be and changing traditional health perceptions of a particular food can be difficult. Why isn’t there one litmus test for each and every food? It just doesn’t work that way. Research is complicated and variables can make results vague and sometimes confusing. It was once accepted science that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood, contributing to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. The most recent literature, however, says all saturated fats are not created equal, and that the food matrix—the many nutrients within a food and how they relate—is important. For instance, calcium may modify the way saturated fat in cheese is metabolized.
I have always included full-fat cheese in my eating plan, not only because I prefer the taste, but also for its nutritional value. All cheese offers a delicious vehicle for calcium, high-quality protein, and phosphorous—all of which support bone health. Perhaps now, I have another reason to include cheese in my diet: heart health.
The science on saturated fat, dairy foods, and cardiovascular health continues to evolve. I will continue to follow the research and enjoy cheese with a non-restrictive approach. No singular food will protect one from disease. Health depends on a combination of lifestyle and genetics. I enjoy a lifestyle that includes daily exercise, avoiding tobacco, and eating nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean meats, milk, and cheese. I’ll be celebrating this National Cheese Lover’s Day with some cheddar!
You too can celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day with some of these delicious recipes:
- Cheese and Spinach Strata
- 3 Cheese Black Bean Chili
- Strawberry Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Cheesy Guacamole
- Cheddar Fondue
Guest Blog by Diane Boyd, MBA, RD, LDN
Diane Boyd has a private nutrition practice in North Carolina where she specializes in medical nutrition therapy, weight management, and eating disorders. She is the consulting nutritionist for Cape Fear Sports Enhancement and promotes nutrition via workplace programs and freelance writing. Her passion for fitness and eating well fuel the work she truly enjoys.