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Say cheese! Saturated fats not all created equal | The Australian

October 6, 2012

IF you’re a bit like Wallace and Gromit, in the sense that you prefer cheese and crackers to chocolate, then you’re in for some good news: the habit may be much better for your health than previously thought.

It seems the research around full-fat dairy foods – milk, cheese and yoghurt – and their link to heart disease is being turned on its head.

For many years dietary advice has recommended a reduction in saturated fat as a key strategy to reduce the risk of heart disease. As full-cream dairy foods are high in saturated fat, they have been grouped with cakes, pies, biscuits and pastries as food sources of saturated fat that should be limited.

However, until now, less attention has been given to distinguishing between the different food sources of saturated fat and whether they have equally detrimental effects on health.

Common sense tells us, however, that when it comes to wholefoods they consist of a complex matrix of interacting nutrients that may ultimately influence how the food is used by the body and, in turn, whether it is beneficial or detrimental to long-term health and wellbeing.

Dietary advice that’s based on evaluating a food on its content of one nutrient in isolation, such as saturated fat, is fraught with limitations. And it turns out this is good news for cheese lovers.

An early study conducted by researchers at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne highlighted how the same amount of saturated fat from different sources has different effects on health. In the study, people with high cholesterol levels consumed the same amount of dairy fat from either butter or cheese for a four-week period.

Results showed that those eating the cheese had no increase in cholesterol levels compared with their baseline diet, while those consuming the butter did experience an increase.

A similar study in a larger group of people published earlier this year has supported these findings, showing the same lack of effect on cholesterol levels following a high intake of cheese for six weeks compared with the same amount of butter.

via Say cheese! Saturated fats not all created equal | The Australian.

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