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health benefits of cheese

Health benefits of cheese: Science says cheese may lower heart disease risk

Yes, all that cheese finally paid off. In case you were in need of some good news today, cheesemongers around the world can rejoice. The University of Eastern Finland recently ran a study that basically concluded there may be health benefits of cheese and other fermented dairy products, one of those being protection against coronary heart disease.

At least for men, that is.

The Latest Health Benefits of Cheese

The University of Eastern Finland’s study tested men only, but the findings were promising for cheese-lovers. While you may have feared that cheese was clogging your arteries, it may actually be helping protect against heart problems. According to the study, along other fermented dairy products, the consumption of cheese could be lowering your risk for incident coronary heart disease.

Yes, you read that right: Cheese may have health benefits. It’s real. It’s happening. You’ve been training for this your whole life.

But cheese is just the supporting actor here—we can thank all fermented dairy products. Fermented dairy products include food items such as:

  • Cheeses (how many times do we have to say it?)
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Kefir

The study found that men who eat plenty of fermented dairy products have a smaller risk of incident coronary heart disease than men who eat less of these products. Additionally, if you’re gorging on a lot of non-fermented dairy products, you’re increasing your risk for incident coronary heart disease. You can see these findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition, or you can take our word for it.


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How the Cheese Study Went Down

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study has been ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland for about 20 years. Approximately 2,000 men had their dietary habits assessed at the beginning of the study from 1984 to 1989. Then, they were followed up on for an average of 20 years. During this follow-up period, 472 men experienced an incident coronary heart disease event.

From there, the participants were divided into groups based on how much they ate the different dairy products. The researchers compared the groups with the highest and lowest consumption levels, while also taking various lifestyle and nutrition factors into consideration.

For the groups that consumed dairy products with less than 3.5 percent fat, the risk of incident coronary heart disease was 26% lower in the highest consumption group compared to the lowest consumption group. Additionally, the consumption of high-fat fermented dairy products, such as cheese, was not associated with the risk of incident coronary heart disease.

In short, cheese isn’t increasing your chance of incident coronary heart disease, so it’s basically lettuce. (Kidding, of course.)

The researchers did find that a very high consumption of non-fermented dairy products was associated with an increased risk of incident coronary heart disease. Milk was the most commonly used product in this category, with a “very high consumption” being defined as an average daily milk intake of 0.9 liters or about 33.4 fluid ounces. Lower consumption levels were not associated with the risk. So, as long as you’re not chugging milk every day, you should be alright.

We’re assuming women are in the clear with this news (because ladies love cheese too), but keep in mind the study only tested men.

So, go ahead, cheese your heart out.

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    Alyssa Ruane


    Forever a Floridian at heart, Alyssa is The Lysst's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. She's known as the snack queen in all her social circles and is a sucker for spontaneity. When she's not exploring a new city, she's based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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