Is cheese better than butter for heart health?
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Washington: Doctors and nutritionists have long recommended avoiding all animal
fats to trim cholesterol, but Danish researchers say cheese may not be so bad,
and probably shouldn`t be placed in the same category as butter.
Despite eating more fat than had been in their normal diet, the cheese eaters showed no increase in LDL or total cholesterol. While eating butter, however, the same subjects had LDL levels about seven percent higher on average.
While eating cheese, subjects` HDL or "good" cholesterol dropped slightly compared with when they ate butter, but not compared with their normal eating period.
The researchers speculated that there could be several reasons why cheese affected people differently than butter. But there is nothing conclusive in the study, which was supported by the Danish Dairy Board and the National Dairy Research Institute.
For one, cheese has a lot of calcium, which has been shown to increase the amount of fat excreted by the digestive tract. Researchers did detect a little more fecal fat during the time the group ate cheese, but the amounts were not statistically significant.
Other possible explanations involve the large amount of protein in cheese and its fermentation process, both of which could affect the way it`s digested compared to butter.
Elizabeth Jackson, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Health Systems, said that the study was well done but does not really change what cardiologists currently recommend.
"We want people to have a diet focused on whole grains and vegetables and moderate fats," said Jackson, who was not involved in the study.
"In terms of cheese, anything in moderation," she added.