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Cheese has long had a bad reputation among the health and diet conscious because of its high saturated fat content. However, recent scientific studies show that cheese has a whole catalogue of health benefits – and some of the results are un-brie-lievable.

Cheese has health benefits for nearly everybody. That is when the right cheese is consumed in moderation.

Read on to find out all the health benefits of cheese, the perfect portion size, how to get more cheese in your diet, and reasons you might want to avoid cheese.

What are the health benefits of cheese?

Cheese has been around for nearly 8,000 years,1 but this whole food’s fantastic health benefits have only been understood recently.

Recent scientific studies claim cheese has the power to:

  • Improve your intelligence. People who consume milk products may perform better at cognitive functions and memory tests than those following lactose-free diets.2

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease. A study of 200,000 people found that people who eat a lot of cheese are less likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t.3

  • Improve the immune system. Probiotic cheese can help support the body’s production of good bacteria and improve the body’s immune response.4

  • Increase in metabolism. People who eat a lot of cheese have a higher concentration of butyric acid – a compound linked with a faster metabolism – in their system.5

  • Decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Feel free to enjoy the fondue and the cheese board – one studies suggest the higher your intake of cheese, the less likely you are to develop Type 2 diabetes.6

  • Protect against tooth decay. Eating cheese increases the alkaline present in your mouth, which reduces enamel erosion and protects against tooth decay.7

The perfect portion size of cheese

Cheese is a delicious snack, but the British Dietetic Association warns against overindulgence. They advise consuming no more than 30g of cheese per sitting.8

How to include more cheese in your diet

Cheese is a versatile ingredient, with many forms and flavours, and there are lots of ways to add cheese to your diet. Many global cuisines include some kind of cheese, so there’s an option to suit most tastes. Whether you’d prefer Mexican queso, Italian parmesan, Indian paneer or Swiss fondue, that’s up to you.

You can even enjoy cheese as a dessert; either indulge in a sophisticated cheese board or a slice of homely cheesecake.

Reasons to avoid cheese

With so many health benefits, it might be challenging to know why you’d avoid cheese. However, cheese isn’t appropriate for everyone. You should avoid eating cheese if:

You’re lactose intolerant. Cheese can cause digestive problems in lactose-intolerant individuals. However, parmesan has a low lactose content, so it can be ok for people with mild lactose intolerance.9

You’re following a low-calorie diet. Cheese is high in fat, so it is quite calorific. For example, a 30g piece of cheddar contains 100 calories.10

You have high blood pressure. Cheese has a high salt content – which can raise blood pressure.11,12

Last updated: 13 October 2020