One of the cruelest tricks life plays on us is to make all of the most delicious foods the most likely to leave us in need of a quadruple bypass at the age of 35.
However, a study has revealed some shocking statistics about one of our favourite treats.
If we asked you to reel off ten foods that are pretty much guaranteed to make you fat, cheese would probably be one of the first things you’d name – alongside pizza, chocolate and those little mini muffin things you can get in boxes of like 20 from Sainsbury’s.
It’s a no-brainer really, isn’t it? Gorging on what is essentially a massive block of fat probably isn’t going to turn you into a chiselled Adonis with abs of pure steel any time soon.
Or so we thought.
New research from University College Dublin has found that somehow people who eat a lot of cheese are generally thinner than those who don’t – which, for someone who gauges how good his evenings are based on how many different varieties of the good stuff he’s rammed into his face, is extremely comforting news.
For the study, scientists took a sample of 1,500 people aged between 18 and 90 and measured the impact that eating dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, had had on them.
Surprisingly, they found that the participants who consumed the most dairy had the lowest BMIs, smaller waists, lower blood pressure and less body fat.
“What we saw was that in the high consumers [of cheese] they had a significantly higher intake of saturated fat than the non-consumers and the low consumers and yet there was no difference in their LDL Cholesterol levels,” said study lead author Dr Emma Feeney.
LDL Cholesterol is a substance found in blood which helps the body to function correctly. However, when there is too much LDL cholesterol in a person’s blood it sticks to the walls of arteries blocking blood flow..
As if that wasn’t odd enough, they also discovered that those who consumed low-fat dairy products actually tended to have higher cholesterol.
The study’s results are in stark contrast to what health officials previously believed. Until now it has been widely agreed that to lower cholesterol levels, people should cut down their intake of saturated fats.
This new information backs up research that has been conducted in other countries, which has found that saturated fat from cheese doesn’t actually increase blood cholesterol level because of its unique set of nutrients.
“We have to consider not just the nutrients themselves but also the matrix in which we are eating them in and what the overall dietary pattern is, so not just about the food then, but the pattern of other foods we eat with them as well,” wrote Dr Feeney.
We’ll take that as our cue to crack open the Stilton.