Cheese ‘may not be as bad for cholesterol as other fat’

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2011, 17:07 PM IST

London: Here`s the perfect excuse to gorge on a grilled cheese sandwich at breakfast -- researchers have found that cheese may not be as bad for cholesterol levels as other types of fat.

Doctors and nutritionists have warned those on low - carbohydrate diets against eating animal fats for years. But a new study by Danish researchers says that cheese should not be placed in the same category as butter.

According to the University of Copenhagen study, people who ate daily servings of cheese for six-week intervals had lower LDL cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, than when they ate a comparable amount of butter.

The cheese eaters also had the same level of LDL during the experiment than when they ate a normal diet. The group surveyed about 50 people and wrote about their findings in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’.

Each person was put on a controlled diet and added a measured amount of cheese or butter daily. Throughout, each participant was compared against his or herself, to follow changes in the body caused by the foods.

The researchers gave each person cheese or butter, both made from cows milk, equal to 13 percent of their daily energy consumption from fat, the `Daily Mail` reported.

During six-week intervals, each person ate the set amount of cheese or butter, separated by a 14-day cleansing period, during which they returned to their normal diet. Then they switched and for six weeks those who ate cheese before, ate butter, while butter eaters in the first phase ate cheese.

Despite eating more fat than had been in their normal diet, the cheese eaters showed no increase in LDL or total cholesterol. While eating butter, however, the same subjects had LDL levels about seven percent higher on average.

While eating cheese, subjects` HDL or "good" cholesterol dropped slightly compared with when they ate butter, but not compared with their normal eating period.

Julie Hjerpsted and her University of Copenhagen colleagues wrote: "Cheese lowers LDL cholesterol when compared with butter intake of equal fat content and does not increase LDL cholesterol compared with a habitual diet."

PTI