Dairy products are one of the best dietary sources of calcium and other nutrients. Here are eight ways in which cheese might be healthful.
1. Bone health
Some theories have proposed that eating dairy products leads to higher acid levels in the body, and that this can destroy rather than encourage healthy bones. However, scientific evidence does not support this view.
2. Dental health
Cheese can enhance dental health. Calcium plays an important role in tooth formation, and cheese is a good source of calcium. In addition, at least one study has shown that eating cheese can raise the pH level in dental plaque, offering protection against dental cavities.
Milk and sugar-free yogurt appear not to have the same effect.
3. Blood pressure
Statistics show that people who eat more cheese have lower blood pressure, despite some cheeses being rich in fat and sodium.
Calcium can help reduce blood pressure. Low-fat, low-sodium cheeses are recommended.
A suitable low-sodium cheese would be low-fat or reduced-fat natural Swiss cheese.
Other low-fat cheeses include cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan, feta, and goat’s cheese, and low-fat cream cheese.
Many cheeses are now available in “lite” versions, such as cheddar, brie, havarti, and feta. Check the nutritional information, because some reduced-fat cheeses have added sodium.
Due to extreme processing, fat-free cheeses are not recommended as a regular part of the diet, even for those looking to reduce calories or fat.
4. Healthy blood vessels
Some cheeses contain high levels of cholesterol and sodium, suggesting that they can lead to cardiovascular problems.
However, in 2014, researchers concluded that dairy products could be a good source of the antioxidant, glutathione. This antioxidant is crucial for brain health and for preventing age-related neurodegeneration.
In 2016, scientists also found that the antioxidant properties of cheese may protect against the negative effects of sodium, at least, in the short term.
In the study, the blood vessels of participants who consumed dairy cheese functioned better than the blood vessels of those who ate pretzels or soy cheese.
5. Gut microbiota and cholesterol
As a fermented food, cheese may help boost healthy gut bacteria. This could have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels, according to a small study published in 2015.
6. A healthy weight
Studies show that a person with a high body mass index (BMI) is more likely to have low levels of calcium. Since cheese is a good source of calcium, there may be benefits for people on a weight-loss diet.
7. Omega-3 fatty acids
These have been found in some types of cheese, and especially those made from milk produced by cows that eat Alpine grasses. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to benefit the cardiovascular system and the brain.
8. Healthy cells
Cells need protein for building and repair. One ounce of cheddar cheese can offer 7 g of protein. The amount of protein recommended for each person depends on their age, size, and activity level. Use this calculator to find out how much protein you need.
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