Many believe that cheese is unhealthy, in large part because of all its saturated fat. But newer research calls into question the link between saturated fat and heart disease. In fact, eating cheese (nibbling, not gorging) is linked with numerous health benefits. Here are 5 health benefits of cheese.
1. Cuts Risk of Heart Disease
One major finding was that eating nearly 2 ounces of cheese daily (1 ounce equals a 1-inch cube) was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of heart disease. Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, the authors propose that minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium and vitamins like riboflavin and B12 may play a role. Another key finding: eating as little as 1/2 ounce of cheese a day could cut stroke risk by 13 percent.
2. Fends off diabetes
Eating 1 3/4 ounces of cheese a day may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 8 percent, says an analysis of cohort studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
3. Improves cholesterol
A 2015 analysis of randomized controlled trials (research's gold standard) in Nutrition Reviews compared the blood cholesterol of people eating a prescribed diet that included butter or cheese. Although both diets had about the same amount of saturated fat and calories, the cheese eaters ended their trials with lower total and LDL cholesterol than their butter-eating counterparts. Their "good" HDL cholesterol was also lower, though—the opposite of what you want.
4. Builds strength
Eating almost a cup of ricotta cheese a day for 12 weeks boosted muscle mass and improved balance in healthy adults over 60. The researchers of the study—published in 2014 in Clinical Interventions in Aging—said that the milk proteins casein and whey may have fueled the improvement.
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