Eating cheese may increase levels of good cholesterol, says Danish study

A woman buys cheese at a supermarket in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
A woman buys cheese at a supermarket in Saint Petersburg, Russia. PHOTO: AFP
An employee packs camembert cheeses in an haloir of the cheese factory in Camembert, France on Aug 24, 2016.
An employee packs camembert cheeses in an haloir of the cheese factory in Camembert, France on Aug 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

It may be high in fat, but cheese could be good for you, a Danish study has found.

A study from the University of Copenhagen has found that eating cheese could elevate levels of "good" cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

In the 12-week study, 139 adults were split into three groups. One group of participants ate 80g of high-fat cheese every day, one ate 80g of reduced-fat cheese while the last group ate no cheese, and 90g of jam and bread each day.

Those who ate the high-fat cheese saw an increase in their "good" cholesterol, said the report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Aug 24.

There was no difference in low density lipoprotein cholesterol or "bad" cholesterol in the test subjects.

"Blood pressure and waist circumference did not differ significantly between the the diets," researchers said.

The study was funded by various dairy and agricultural institutions in Europe and the United States.

It goes against conventional nutritional advice, which lists cheese among high-fat foods, such as red meat, butter, fried foods, to avoid.

Besides high levels of saturated fat, cheese often has high salt content. But it is also a good source of calcium and protein.

However, more studies have been published in recent years on the health effects of cheese.

One study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry last year said that cheese boosted one's metabolism. The test, partially funded by the Danish Dairy Research Foundation, involved 15 people.

A study in 2014 by Cambridge researchers and published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology found that people who ate large amounts of dairy were actually at lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

As with most foods, moderation is key.