A new study published in the recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming cheese did not increase LDL cholesterol levels and may even lower them compared with butter consumption.
The study, titled "Cheese intake in large amounts lowers LDL-cholesterol concentrations compared with butter intake of equal fat content," was conducted by researchers at the Department of Human Nutrition at Copenhagen. Fifty participants were placed on a controlled six-week diet with the addition of butter or cheese equal to 13 percent of the person's daily intake of fat. They then took two weeks off to resume their normal diets and then returned to the diet but swapped butter for cheese and vice versa. The study participants eating the butter experienced LDL "bad" cholesterol level rise by an average of seven percent. Those on the cheese diet saw lower LDL cholesterol compared with butter eating, but not when compared with their normal diets, said study researcher, Julie Hierpsted.
The researchers speculate that several factors may play a role in why cheese was shown to lower cholesterol levels: the calcium levels in cheese help excess fat exit the body; a result of the fermentation process; or the high protein levels are all possible factors that affect the digestion process of cheese, leading to the benefit.
Despite the new findings, cheese, which is high in fat, has been linked to a number of health issues including allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain and heart disease. Non-organic cheese may also be contaminated with antibiotics, growth hormones and other harmful substances.
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