Cheese May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels, Finds Study

"The key to good health is to have a diversity of good food, and cheese has a place in the diet of most people.”

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Cheese Control Blood Sugar

The high-fat content in cheese has made it one of the dietary culprits for many people; however, a new study has found that it can help control blood sugar levels.

The researchers conducted the study at the University of Alberta, which was funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada (C.B.C.).

The study found that pre-diabetic rats that were fed low-fat and regular cheese had improved blood sugar levels, which may be a promising finding for those who enjoy their cheddar but are concerned about the high-fat content.

Catherine Chan, a nutrition expert at the University of Alberta, who wanted to know the role of cheese in insulin sensitivity, said, “It suggests that eating cheese doesn’t make things worse and may, in fact, make things better in terms of cardiovascular disease or diabetes risk.”

It is unclear how cheese helped to control insulin levels in the rats. However, Chan explained the cheese normalizes the phospholipids that are derived from dietary fats, which are crucial to many physiological functions in the body.

She said, “The cheese didn’t totally normalize the effects of insulin, but it significantly improved them. And it didn’t matter whether it was low-fat or regular cheese.”

This is good news for people who love the fuller flavor of regular cheese. Chan said, “While people are often advised to eat a low-fat version, it has different sensory properties that some find unappealing.”

The nutritionist added, “The response is, ‘I don’t like it,’ so people either eat no cheese or eat regular-fat cheese and feel guilty about it. Cheese has lots of nutrients, and if you cut it out of your diet, what are you going to replace it with?”

The findings of the study support previous studies that found that cheese does not actually increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but food guidelines recommend reducing saturated fat, including low-fat cheese.

Chan mentioned, “The question is, what is the basis for that recommendation? When we started looking, we found there’s not a lot of information out there about low-fat versus regular cheese,” said Chan.

She warned people with health issues to check with their doctor or a nutrition expert first about including cheese in their diets. She said for most people, cheese has become part of a healthy diet.

“The key to good health is to have a diversity of good food, and cheese has a place in the diet of most people. Like grandma says, everything in moderation. If I love cheese, I would not cut it out of my diet,” explained Chan. She added, “Right now it can be confusing, when we’re told to cut fat from our diets. This study helps to provide rationale for further studies in humans so that eventually, researchers can make more rational decisions about the dietary recommendations we give to people.”