Lower weight and blood pressure the ‘cheesy’ way

If I had to name my all-time favorite food right now, I’d probably choose cheese. And I’m guessing many of you feel the same…

Whether it’s melted atop a piece of pizza, inside a sandwich, on a plate with fruit or on a cracker, cheese tastes darn good. The only problem is, it’s not so good for your health. It’s fattening and clogs your arteries. Or at least that’s what you’ve been told all these years…

But what if eating a lot of delicious cheese was not only completely fine for your heart, but helped you lose weight rather than gain it?

That would be the best health news in a decade or more. And lucky for us cheese-lovers that seems to be the case…

Dairy does a body good… really

A recent study from researchers in Ireland determined that cheese and other dairy products aren’t the artery-clogging junk foods you’ve been led to believe. In fact, they actually help you lose weight.

In the study, 1,500 participants kept food diaries for four days. After the four days were up, researchers drew blood samples, weighed participants and took other health measurements. And here’s what they noticed…

The people who ate the most dairy during those four days did not have high cholesterol or high blood pressure as conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. In fact, they actually had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than people who ate less dairy.

And people who ate more cheese as opposed to other dairy products (like yogurt or milk) had the best blood pressure levels of all! (That reminds me… remember when Dr. Mark Wiley shared findings about parmesan cheese lowering blood pressure?)

People who ate more dairy also had a lower body mass index, body fat percentage, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. To put it simply — they were in better shape than people who weren’t indulging in dairy.

And the good news doesn’t stop there…

A recent review of 29 studies on the health effects of eating dairy concluded that eating dairy products does not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease or premature death. In fact, people who ate fermented dairy products (like cheese) were actually at a 2 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death than people who abstained from delicious dairy products like cheese.

Eating cheese for health

Now, it’s great news that cheese and other dairy products aren’t the dangerous junk foods that they’ve been made out to be. But there are still some precautions you need to follow if you want eat dairy and stay healthy…

First off, you’ll want to steer clear of processed and conventional dairy products that are full of antibiotics and hormones. Stick to organic and grass-fed dairy products whenever possible. These contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that fights inflammation.

And when it comes to eating cheese, you’ll probably want to limit your intake of processed cheesy stuff like pizza (sigh) to every once and while. Instead, stick to the whole, raw version to get your dairy fix. Trust me, it’s still mighty delicious and pairs well with veggies, fruits and other whole foods.

  1. YOU FETA BELIEVE IT Eating lots of cheese ‘helps you LOSE weight – and doesn’t hurt your heart — The Sun. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  2. L. Feeney, et al. “Patterns of dairy food intake, body composition and markers of metabolic health in Ireland: results from the National Adult Nutrition Survey.” Nutrition & Diabetes, 2017.
  3. Review finds no link between dairy and heart attack or stroke risk — NHS Choices. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  4. Guo, et al. “Milk and dairy consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality: dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.” European Journal of Epidemiology, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.