If you’re a cheese lover, you’ve probably seen it as a forbidden pleasure, something to be rationed out into tiny slivers…In fact since the ‘low fat’ mantra for health was invented in the 1970’s, cheese has been seen as one of the main ‘culprits’ responsible for every major disease in the west. Now I have known a secret for quite a long time now…that cheese is actually good for you. In our house we’ve always enjoyed copious amounts of Brie, Cheddar’s of all colours, Stiltons, creamy cheeses and crumbly cheeses, cheese that makes your tabs laugh, and cheese that melts onto food and creates the cheesy string dream that’s sheer heaven to enjoy…each and every day! In fact, I have cheddar crumbled into my scrambled eggs most mornings, just to make them extra creamy!
Now I saw a report the other day that highlighted a few of the facts behind the reasons that cheese is actually good for you! Hurrah!…I thought you might like to hear a few facts that will help you conquer your fear and populate your fridge with as many varieties as possible!
Reason 1…Cheese could help prevent osteoporosis. This one is a no brainer really….all that lovely calcium contributes powerfully to your bone health, and prevents your body taking calcium from your bones to be used elsewhere…so says Professor Peter Selby, who is an osteoporosis specialist at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Reason 2…High fat cheese can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. A study in Sweden has actually shown that ingredients in cheeses such as Cheddar, Brie, Parmesan, Roquefort etc, can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by a QUARTER! These fatty acids, according to a study published in the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism found that eating high fat dairy (including cream!) actually LOWERED blood pressure as well as blood sugars, these 2 factors are both linked to a higher risk of diabetes. Blood tests were carried out on people who were found to be at lower risk, and their blood was found to contain a fatty acid called trans-palmitoleic, which is associated with eating a high amount of dairy foods.
Reason 3…It can even help to lower the risk of early menopause! A study in the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Harvard that was carried out on 116,000 women concluded that foods rich in calcium such as cheese, will reduce the risk of entering early menopause by 13%…that’s an awful lot when you realise that 1 in 109 of us are expected have early menopausal symptoms.
Reason 4…Cheese is great for our teeth too! That’s because strong cheese especially stimulates saliva production in the mouth…this helps to lower the PH levels in the mouth and reduce the amount of acid in it, this then helps to keep teeth white and reduce dental decay. Cottage cheese contains the most of an ingredient called casien, as well as high levels of calcium…great for those teggies!
Reason 5…I’ve saved the best one till last! Cheese can help you reduce belly fat…yes really! And now the experts agree! There have been numerous studies on why this seeming contradiction in weight loss advice is so, but the latest, by Dr Curtin at the University of Technology in Australia this year has found that because of the high levels of protein and fats in high fat cheeses, it has a very high ‘satiety’ level…in other words, it helps you to feel fuller and more satisfied for longer, preventing the urge to snack on more sugary or processed foods that are high in carbohydrates.
It would seem that high fat, strong tasting cheeses such as Gruyere, Brie and Stilton, as well as your amazingly versatile Cheddar’s, have many health benefits to offer us, if we can only get over our fear of cheese and the misleading information we have been given in the past.
I know of other health benefits from cheese too, such as a better sleep, because it contains tryptophan, which is an enzyme that stimulates the production of melatonin (our ‘sleepy hormone’)…in fact, the old myth that it gives you nightmares has long been dispelled!
So go on, experiment with cheese and begin to enjoy all the wonderful varieties that there are out there for you. If you are serious about your weight loss…just have the 1 cracker, treat it as a cheese delivery system double the amount of cheese, and enjoy how filling and satisfying that feeling is for you! If you limit your carbohydrates to just 50 grams a day of the lovely complex variety (think green leafy veg, salad, peppers etc), then you will lose weight AND enjoy your cheese too…that’s a win/ win situation in my book!
In fact, if you would like a more comprehensive list of the best foods for stimulating weight loss, and the foods to avoid that will actually stall it, then just click here and have the list on me!
Happy eating !