For a long time, we haven’t questioned that the things that taste good must be bad for us. Maybe it’s the knowledge that we’re probably shaving 10 minutes off our life with every bite, but bacon butties, pizza slices and chocolate biscuits are as irresistible as they are indulgent. No matter what it might do to us, most of us can never say no to something naughty.
Thanks to the powers that be, we’ve always had access to a ready handbook of tasty contraband in the form of often controversial nutritional guidelines. Though our understanding of food and science have both shifted somewhat since the early days of dietary advice, some ingredients have always had a bad public image. Traditionally, these have been anything high in fat. Unfortunately, this category happens to include dairy products.
Anyone who’s ever eaten cheese knows all too well that it makes everything better, which has made the knowledge that it could be slowly killing us even harder to stomach. They say it’s the ones you love that end up hurting you the most. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for unhappy cheese addicts everywhere. According to a new study, cheese and other dairy products may not be as bad as we all feared.
The research, published earlier this month by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, makes for great reading if you’re into all things cheesy. After years of work, scientists found that there was no correlation between the regular consumption of cheese, whole milk, and other full-fat dairy products and any increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death.
The study took a sample group of nearly 3,000 adults, all under the age of 65 and free from cardiovascular disease, and checked their health measures after six, 13 and 22 years in order to track the results. What they found was that anyone who indulged in dairy were no more likely to suffer negative health effects than their lactose-free counterparts.
Assistant professor at the University of Texas and the study’s lead author Marcia Otto said, "Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults."
The new results have found favour across the nutrition world. Registered dietician Michelle Allison, also known as “The Fat Nutritionist” was quick to reveal her happiness at the findings. Speaking to Munchies, Allison commented that, “The conclusion is pretty sexy: Eating saturated fat from dairy doesn’t appear to be associated with increased cardiovascular risk.” She went on to add that she, “like many people, [is] interested in any research that says eating full-fat dairy doesn’t seem to increase cardiovascular disease risk, since ice cream, cheese, and whole milk are all extremely tasty, and also culturally meaningful foods that are deeply embedded in lots of people’s lives.”
Of course, the study does not prove definitively that there are no drawbacks to a dairy-based diet. The study groups did not have their eating habits rigorously controlled, and were essentially allowed to eat whatever they like. Nevertheless, this is just one wave in a rising tide of evidence that our assumptions about fat may not have been absolutely accurate. If this trend continues, it seems that we’ll soon all be able to feel less guilty about eating cheese.