If you have a love for cheese in your heart, cheese has love for your heart, too. A new study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases found that consumption of dairy foods such as butter, milk and cheese, didn’t put test subjects at a greater risk for heart disease.
The study’s researchers looked at data regarding more than 3,000 middle-age Costa Rican men and women who participated in an epidemiological study between 1994 and 2004. They found no statistical difference in heart-attack risk between those that consumed dairy and those that didn’t.
Co-author Dr. Ana Baylin from Brown University, Rhode Island, said cheese is comparable to eggs in nutritional complexity. Once thought to be harmful to the heart because of their high cholesterol content, eggs also contain protective nutrients.
Calcium, vitamin D, potassium and magnesium in cheese help protect against heart disease and offset the negative effects of saturated fat, the researchers say. The high content of saturated fat in cheese, while still potentially harmful, is mostly a concern for those who eat extreme amounts. The lesson, Baylin says, is to look at the total nutritional effect of foods, and not to fixate on certain harmful components.
This is great news if you’re anything like Tina Fey’s 30 Rock character, Liz Lemon (I am), whose boss once caught her serenading a cheese platter in the wee hours of the night. According to the study, even people that drank a pint of milk or ate a pound of cheese daily did not show differences in cardiovascular health.
And if you needed more reasons to enjoy some feta on your beet salad at lunch today, an October 2010 study from Queensland, Australia, found that people with the highest intake of full-fat dairy had a 70-percent less chance of death by heart disease or stroke than those who had the lowest intake.
So, smile and say cheese!