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Health Benefits of Cheese:

Cheese Containing Saturated Fat & Health

By Holly Easton, DO

Yes, it looks like these go together. For the past 30+ years, Americans have been advised to follow a ‘low fat diet’ as one of the keys to avoiding heart disease. So we have and we find ourselves more obese and with an increase in type 2 diabetes. Has the incidence of heart disease in the US been diminished? Well, not exactly…


The American Heart Association states in their 2013 report, that “Rates of Death Attributable to CVD Have Declined, but the Burden of Disease Remains High”.


The scientific and medical communities are examining the many factors that appear to play into where we now find ourselves. What is agreed upon is that our ever expanding waistlines are from both diet and sedentary lifestyles.

It is looking like one of those diet factors has been the substitution of simple carbohydrates, (sweet foods and drinks, or processed foods with a high glycemic index), for fat.


So fat is getting another look and it appears it is not the dietary demon it was made out to be. Saturated fat is one of the types of
dietary fat. It is in cheese made from whole milk.


What it is:
*a macronutrient used by the body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, & K
*an ingredient necessary for the functions of many organ systems including: lungs, heart, bones, immune system, brain and nervous system
*the type of fat primarily found in animal food sources: eggs, whole milk dairy products, meat. It is also found in the tropical oils:
coconut, palm, palm kernel as well as cocoa butter

*a calorie dense fuel source, containing 9 calories per gram
*a fat that raises the ‘large, fluffy’ type A, LDL particles
*a fat that can raise your HDL or ‘good’ type of cholesterol


What it is not:
*monounsaturated (a good type of fat found in avocados, olives, nuts)
*polyunsaturated (a type of fat considered good when it is predominantly comprised of omega 3 fatty acids. Oily, cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and mackerel, contain this type of fat as well as some plants like flaxseed)
*partially hydrogenated (a bad type of fat, which contains trans fatty acids and is a synthetic ingredient found in many processed foods)
*a fat that raises the bad type of LDL, type B, which is the ‘small dense’ LDL particle (these appear to be raised by carbohydrate
*the independent risk factor for heart disease it has been made out to be. So put down the sweet food, sweet drink , or processed food and have a piece of cheese.


It can do you good!


Disclaimer: This article is an overview of the changing data regarding saturated fat and heart healthy diet recommendations. It is not medical advice. For optimal health, discuss your eating and exercise habits with your physician.


J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28. pii: jn220699. [Epub ahead of print]
Total and Full-Fat, but Not Low-Fat, Dairy Product Intakes are Inversely Associated with Metabolic Syndrome in Adults.
Drehmer M1, Pereira MA2, Schmidt MI3, Alvim S4, Lotufo PA5, Luft VC6, Duncan BB3.


Total and especially full-fat dairy food intakes are inversely and independently associated with metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older adults, associations that seem to be mediated by dairy saturated fatty acids. Dietary recommendations to avoid full-fat dairy intake are not supported by our findings.

© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.


JAMA. 2006 Feb 8;295(6):655-66.
Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial.
Howard BV1, Van Horn L, Hsia J, Manson JE, Stefanick ML, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Kuller LH, LaCroix AZ, Langer RD, Lasser NL, Lewis CE, Limacher MC, Margolis KL, Mysiw WJ, Ockene JK, Parker LM, Perri MG, Phillips L, Prentice RL, Robbins J, Rossouw JE, Sarto GE, Schatz IJ, Snetselaar LG, Stevens VJ, Tinker LF, Trevisan M, Vitolins MZ, Anderson GL, Assaf AR, Bassford T, Beresford SA, Black HR, Brunner RL, Brzyski RG, Caan B, Chlebowski RT, Gass M, Granek I, Greenland P, Hays J, Heber D, Heiss G, Hendrix SL, Hubbell FA, Johnson KC, Kotchen JM.

Over a mean of 8.1 years, a dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD in postmenopausal women and achieved only modest effects on CVD risk factors, suggesting that more focused diet and lifestyle interventions may be needed to improve risk factors and reduce CVD risk.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725. Epub 2010 Jan 13.
Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat
with cardiovascular disease.
Siri-Tarino PW1, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM.

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.

Circulation. 2013 Jan 1;127(1):143-52. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0b013e318282ab8f.
Executive summary: heart disease and stroke statistics--2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association.
Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, Bravata DM, Dai S, Ford ES, Fox CS, Franco S, Fullerton HJ, Gillespie C, Hailpern SM, Heit JA, Howard VJ, Huffman MD, Kissela BM, Kittner SJ, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Magid D, Marcus GM, Marelli A, Matchar DB, McGuire DK, Mohler ER, Moy CS, Mussolino ME, Nichol G, Paynter NP, Schreiner PJ, Sorlie PD, Stein J, Turan TN, Virani SS, Wong ND, Woo D, Turner MB; American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee.