Ask Dr. Salerno Health

Cheese, a Healthy Saturated Fat

Benefits of Cheese

There are many different kinds of fats. Some are good for the body, some are healthier than just good. Some fats are unhealthy, like trans fats, luckily, those kinds of fats are banned from foods. But the knowledge that saturated fats are either good or bad is antiquated. Rather, some saturated fats are better for you, and some are not. This is important to remember because eating fatty foods can be so enjoyable that one might feel guilty about it.

One food to not feel guilty about is cheese. In fact, if heart healthy is a goal, then eat more of it. Cheese is one of the foods that should be considered when pursuing a ketogenic diet. The ability of cheese to provide healthy saturated fats is important to the body and especially, the heart. According to the research and advice of Doctor Arne Astrup of the University of Copenhagen, the role of full-fat dairy can be good for the body. Presenting at the American Heart Association scientific sessions in New Orleans recently, Dr. Astrup commented on his findings on dairy and heart health.

“Including cheese should be recommended for all to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” remarked Dr. Astrup. “I think it is quite safe to recommend that our diabetics and heart patients eat some cheese without being afraid of it. I don’t think there’s any harmful effect, and it could actually be very beneficial.” This is important research and advice to consider. Because as early as January 2016, the USDA recommended eating “fat-free or low-fat dairy” while eating less dairy such as “butter [and] whole milk.” Outlined in a new guidance report, the mention about dairy guidelines are vague, and do not address the complex relationship regarding lactose and saturated fats or even mention cheese.

It is widely seen that staying dairy free is a matter of avoiding lactose, which is the sugar that is found in most dairy products. A full-fat dairy product, cheese, for example, is a food that can be high in healthy saturated fats. Dr. Astrup’s research helps to prove that cheese is good for you. “We’ve done controlled feeding trials in humans and found that, if we give subjects the same amount of saturated fat from either butter or cheese, you see following the cheese [that] the subjects do not increase their total or LDL cholesterol as you would expect based on their intake of saturated fat. So there is something going on with the cheese.”

Cheese is a wonderful source of saturated fats to keep the heart healthy, and speaking to us at the Salerno Center will give a greater understanding about the kinds of fats that are healthy and wonderful for you.