“There’s a lot of magic in the food matrix of cheese.”

By Mandy Oaklander and Mandy Oaklander / Time
January 04, 2017
Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

This story originally appeared on Time.com

The last thing cheese-lovers need is a health expert to justify their obsession. In their eyes, a stiff, smelly block of fromage needs no defense. Yet for the waistline conscious, more cajoling may be needed to convince them they can be eating cheese for good health.

That cheese can be a dieter’s friend will come as a surprise to many. It has a reputation as a fatty, sodium-filled indulgence, and there’s no denying that it’s rich in both; just an ounce (about a slice) of cheddar cheese will run you 9 grams of fat and 180 mg of sodium. It’s also high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

For a long time, these stats made cheese an automatic nutritional no-no. “We used to assess whether a food is good or bad for your health simply by looking at a label and reading some of the basic information,” says Arne Astrup, head of the department of nutrition, exercise and sports at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. (Astrup has received accepted grants from dairy foundations and companies, yet says the research he conducts is “not biased due to industry influence.”) Recent research, from Astrup and others, is showing that the thousands of molecules that make up cheese are working in ways that make the food beneficial to health.

Some of these attributes are obvious but others less so. Here’s what new research pinpoints as some of the nutritional perks of cheese.

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