So cheese may not be a cholesterol concern, it provides important nutrients and can promote gut health. But wait, there’s more good news: Cheese appears to reduce the risk of (really) weight gain and many chronic diseases.
overweight: Cheese is a concentrated source of calories. “That’s why the portions of cheese should be smaller compared to something like milk or yogurt,” says Young of New York University. However, studies show that you don’t need to skip the cheese to keep the scales steady. In one, it was published in The New England Journal of MedicineResearchers set out to identify foods associated with weight gain by following 120,877 men and women in the United States for 20 years, and looking at their weight every four years. While they found that eating more certain foods, such as refined grains (as in white bread), was linked to weight gain, eating more other foods, such as nuts, actually helped with weight loss. Cheese was not associated with gain or loss, even for people who increased the amount of cheese they ate during the study. Another review published in the magazine Molecular Nutrition and Food Research In 2018, it was found that people who eat dairy products, including cheese, weigh more than those who don’t, but those who eat dairy products have less body fat and more fat mass, which is good for health.
One reason cheese helps control weight is that it may reduce appetite more than other dairy products. in the small studyResearchers measured appetite and levels of four hormones that control hunger in the blood of 31 people after they ate cheese, sour cream, whipped cream or butter. Of these foods, cheese caused the biggest spike in two hormones that help you feel full.
Cardiovascular disease: A large meta-analysis of 15 studies published in European Journal of Nutrition that looked at the effect of cheese on cardiovascular disease, and found that people who ate the most (1.5 ounces per day) had a 10 percent lower risk than those who ate none. Other analyzes found that cheese did not appear to affect heart disease risk either way. While many of these studies are observational, meaning they don’t show cause and effect, the research together “suggests that you don’t need to avoid cheese if you’re concerned about LDL cholesterol levels or heart disease,” Feeney says.
Diabetes and high blood pressure: Cheese and full-fat dairy products also appear to be associated with a lower risk of both. in study Of more than 145,000 people in 21 countries, researchers found that eating two servings of full-fat dairy products or a combination of full-fat and low-fat was associated with a 24 and 11 percent lower risk of both conditions compared to eating none. Eating only low-fat dairy products slightly increased the risk. Among people who did not have diabetes or high blood pressure at the start of the nine-year study, those who ate two servings of dairy products were less likely to develop disease during the study.
Lactose intolerance: It can be difficult for some people to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, which leads to diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive symptoms. But the bacteria used to make cheese digest most of the lactose in milk, says Jamie PNG of the American Cheese Association and a 12-year veteran of cheesemaking. There is a lot of residual lactose in whey, which is separated from the curds at the end of the cheese making process and drained. “This means that many types of cheese contain very little or no lactose,” she says. “I’m a lactose intolerant cheesemaker, and my general rule of thumb is that the more moisture in the cheese, the more lactose.” If you are sensitive to lactose, stick to hard and/or aged cheeses such as cheddar, provolone, Parmesan, blue, camembert, and gouda and reduce fresh soft cheeses such as ricotta and cottage cheese. For example, an ounce of cheddar contains about 0.01 grams of lactose while half a cup of cottage cheese contains 3.2 grams. (A cup of whole milk contains 12 grams.)