Experts Find No Harm In Cheese

18:45' 25-07-2018
Cheese, consumed by one in three Australians, is high in protein and calcium, the builder of bones and teeth, but most types of cheese also contain salt and saturated fat, harmful in large quantities.

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    The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends two to three 40 gram serves of dairy foods per day, or four serves for women over 50. Reduced-fat cheese helps reduce your total kilojoule intake.

    Alexandra Hansen, Health and Medicine Editor of The Conversation, asked five experts for their own informed opinions.

    University of Newcastle nutritionist Clare Collins says having moderate amounts of cheese regularly is “consistent with good health”, boosting your protein, calcium and vitamin B12 intake. A review published in 2018 identified four studies that looked at cheese intake and found a lower risk of heart disease as cheese intake increased. It is only a problem for the 4.5% of Australians who are allergic to dairy products.

    Dietician Evangeline Mantzioris, from the University of South Australia, says the high nutritional value of cheese is found in all dairy products. Cheese is a little different as it is a fermented food, containing bacteria or yeast, which contribute to healthy microbiomes. She recommends checking with your doctor if you are trying to reduce weight or have existing heart disease.

    UNSW Lecturer in Nutrition Rebecca Reynolds says not only dairy products but also their alternatives, such as soy-based cheese, are an important source of nutrients for omnivores and vegetarians. However, it is advised people aged two years and over consume reduced-fat alternatives. This is because fat is an energy-dense nutrient and lots of us are overweight, and because a lot of the fat in cheese is the “bad” saturated fat.

    Dietician Regina Belski of Swinburne University of Technology says although cheese is generally healthy, not all cheeses are the same. Check the ingredients for sodium, saturated fat and calcium content, and choose the ones with more calcium and less of the other two.

    Yutang Wang, a biomedical scientist from Federation University, points out that cheese is one of the most ancient foods for humans and has been part of our diet for several thousand years. Dr Wang says there are no studies showing cheese consumption is associated with heart disease. He only recommends avoiding it if you are travelling to countries where pasteurisation is not enforced, where there is a risk of tuberculosis.

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Keywords: cheeseproteinuniversity of south australia

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