So, let’s see what the study is about. The study authors used data from previous studies and analysed them. This is where it gets muddy because every study is different and when you look at the results of these studies separately, they paint a very different picture. Some studies show people who eat a lot of cheese have as much as triple the risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke! Some of the studies in the analysis also showed markedly different results for men and women, different types of cheese or other dairy products and had different methods of tracking people’s dietary habits. So even with the best efforts to account for all the differences, this study is a mish-mash of information.
The scientists drew the conclusion that a moderate consumption of cheese – around 40 grams - may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s about one and a half slices of cheese. Any more and it’s not so ‘healthy’. In other words, the study is not good news for cheese lovers and certainly doesn’t mean cheese is healthy. There isn’t anything in such a small amount of cheese that isn’t easy to get elsewhere so the results speak mostly of a diet with a sufficient amount of nutrients rather than some magic in cheese.
The study authors also used dubious studies to suggest cheese may have a favourable effect on cholesterol levels – one of these studies tested the effects on butter vs cheese on blood cholesterol and found out that butter is worse. But that doesn’t mean cheese had favourable effects! And the participants who were on the ‘cheese diet’ also ended up with higher blood sugar levels. The other study they refer to was a very small one where 14 overweight women were fed different diets for two weeks – nowhere near enough time to show long-term effects or reflect the change in gut bacteria that have a huge effect on overall health.
Just one look at cheese-free diets reveals that you’re better off without coagulated milk – vegans have consistently healthy blood pressure and cholesterol and low risk of heart disease and stroke. And that’s not all - wholefood plant-based diets have been successfully used in the treatment of heart and circulatory diseases for many years. Often, they are more effective than drugs and lead to overall health improvement, including slashing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Don’t be fooled by cheesy tales, they just want to keep you hooked on the stuff! Be healthy, be vegan.