A post on Vegetarian Blues has me in fits. An old article from the Orlando Sentinel is quoted:
Of all the potentially addicting foods, cheese may be the most complex. In research studies using vegan and vegetarian diets to control cholesterol or reduce body weight, most participants soon forget the lure of ice cream, sour cream, and even burgers and chicken. But for many people, the taste for cheese lingers on and on. Yes, 70 percent of its calories may come from waist-augmenting fat, and, ounce for ounce, it may harbor more cholesterol than a steak. But that cheese habit is tough to break.
Give me a break! Yes, cheese has addictive properties but I am fully certain that the consumption of cheese is a good addiction to have, and for many reasons. It is interesting to note that the first two foods cited as easy to â€œforget the lure ofâ€¦â€ are also dairy products: ice cream and sour cream. The lure of dairy is always present, the primordial food that milk is in its many forms.
One of the biggest reasons why it is so difficult to give up on cheese is that our bodies know a good food when it eats it. Those addictive opioid peptides found in cheese actually help control our food intake. They also play a role in motivation, emotion, and the response to stress and pain. If a food delivers a lot of nutrition while helping to control our appetite then a little additional motivation and alleviation of pain should be permitted.
The article goes on to say that the cheese industry is looking for those Americans who will eat it straight out of the package, whatever the cost to their waistlines or cholesterol levels. It fails to mention a number of cheese components that can help you to slim down. Along with those appetite-controlling opioid peptides there is the satiety factor to be considered. Cheese (being a near-complete food) tends to satisfy us so that we do not crave excess amounts of food, cheese included. A little bit of cheese goes a long way.
A misconception I often hear is that it is the fat itself which makes us put on weight. More accurately it is instead the excess calories we consume but do not expend. Of course you can derive calories from fat, but you can also derive calories from protein and carbohydrates. The fat that is found in cheese not only makes the cheese taste good, it also helps to satisfy our cravings. That fat also breaks down into some mighty important fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Multiple studies of the type of CLA found in dairy products have shown that it helps to reduce our weight; some studies indicate that a diet that contains this fatty acid can reduce abdominal fat! Another benefit of CLA is that it decreases whole-body glucose uptake. This is what we want.
There are several other good qualities of this addictive food. Cheese is an excellent source of the amino acid which suppresses our appetites and helps to reduce body fat â€“ tyrosine. Other amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are derived from cheese help to lower our cholesterol levels and control our appetites, and to metabolize the fats and proteins that we do consume.
The cheese industry does not claim that cheese is perfect but given a choice of foods there is no other that matches the complete nutrition that cheese provides, and there is no other food with a better track record for food safety. Cheese is derived from our first food â€“ milk â€“ our first and only food for the first several weeks or months our lives. Unfortunately, what in many cases passes for cheese is so far removed from our first food that it is no wonder that cheese has been repeatedly and viciously maligned. Yet even those processed cheeses are still better foods for us than most any other, and a safer food too.
By the way, my cholesterol levels are amazing and I am quite slim. My HDL is 163 and my LDL is 64, not bad for someone my age. Good genes donâ€™t hurt but the 100 pounds of cheese that I eat each year does not seem to be hurting either.