“So, how are your cholesterol levels”? This is the second most FAQ I am asked, right after “If you eat so much cheese why aren’t you fat”?
I have my cholesterol levels checked periodically, just to make sure they are fine. In the meantime I eat a lot of cheese. I estimate that I consume more than twice the national average – more than one pound per week. A recent check of my cholesterol levels came in great: 91 HDL and 61 LDL. Those enviable levels are partly attributable to good genes but the extra cheese does not appear to be hurting.
Cheese Cleared of Cholesterol Charges is an article published recently by Vital Choices Newsletter; it appears to be a well-written and well-researched report. I agree with its premise: cheese should not be blamed for dangerous cholesterol levels. I have seen and heard convincing evidence throughout my cheese career supporting that belief. The assumption that elevated cholesterol levels (of the LDL, “bad” cholesterols especially) leads to cardiovascular disease is not supported by credible research indicating cause and effect, not that cheese has the propensity to raise cholesterol levels, good or bad. As the article points out, there appears to be scant correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease.
It is interesting that some of the highest per capita cheese consuming countries happen to have some of the lowest incidences of CVD. Of course there are other compounding parameters at play yet it would appear to be simplistic, if not inaccurate, to assume that eating more cheese will cause heart attacks. Instead, more blame for cardiovascular diseases can be attributed to inflammations, many of which are reduced with the fats derived from dairy.
Fine cheese offers several benefits, pleasure among them: curbing the appetite, anti-oxidant properties, metabolism of fats and proteins, a full complement of amino acids for our overall well-being, and many others. It is no wonder cheese is gaining a following among health professionals, and then consequently from insightful media outlets.
Think of cheese as tasty medicine and not as a guilty pleasure. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, stated it clearly over twenty four centuries ago “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”