For years, diets have popped out of the ground, most of them saying that the fats in cheese will not benefit any diet. Recent studies; however, are now saying that cheese is no longer the enemy of a well-balanced diet and that it even has numerous health benefits.
Studies, performed in 2013, have shown that dairy fat cannot be linked to heart diseases and that the fats in cheese and other dairy may even lower the risks. In the past years, low-fat diets have become increasingly popular, but by replacing fats for sugar, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in diabetic patients from 2.5 to 6.9 percent from 1980 through 2011. This and studies stating that cheese and other dairy is no longer the enemy of a well-balanced diet, suggests that fat-free foods might not be the best choice out there. But how can a high fat food, like cheese, help in having a balanced diet?
Research has not only linked the consumption of cheese to a lower risk of heart diseases, but also to numerous other health benefits. As a rich source of calcium and vitamin B, it increases bone health, especially for children, the elderly and pregnant women and with a healthy dose of calcium, it also lowers the risks of osteoporosis. Other health benefits are healthy skin and teeth, hair health thanks to the proteins and even a good night sleep. Cheese includes Tryptophan, an amino acid that is stress-reducing and helps to induce sleep. It seems like binging on cheese before bedtime is not so bad after all. Or is it?
Registered Dietician and Sports Nutritionist Jennifer Sygo says portion control is always key. “By no means should this be interpreted as an encouragement to chase dinner with large amounts of cheddar, but when used within reason, good quality cheese could help us feel fuller and more satisfied,” she says. When selecting a cheese, experts advise to choose a cheese that is rich flavor. “Strong flavor is the trick. A little bit of feta or Parmesan will satisfy your craving much more than a handful of mozzarella that is very mild in taste. Low fat cheeses will not do the trick either,” says Registered Dietician Keri Glassman. Although Glassman says cheese is everything but a super food, an occasional slice or wedge does have good nutritional benefits.
While these insights are now slowly becoming known to Americans, some other countries have lived by these standards for generations. In Mediterranean countries, cheese and other high fat foods have always been part of a well-balanced diet, with Italians and the French nibbling on strong flavored cheeses on a daily basis and using olive oil, the most healthy oil one could add to a diet. The results of these recent studies show that it may not be rocket science that only 11 percent of the French suffer from overweight and that good fats in their diet may keep them from reaching out to a stack of cookies after lunch. Mireille Guilliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, says, “Americans look at good food as bad and guilty, but for the French, food is pleasure.”
Now that researchers have shown that cheese is no longer the enemy of a well-balanced diet and can even be a benefit to good health, they encourage Americans to include these good fats in their daily meals and to cut back on fat-free and high sugar foods.
By Diana Herst