time to fuel your holiday cheese platter conversations, here
are some interesting observations from the current issue of
Today’s Dietitian, a magazine for nutrition
article entitled "The Truth about Dairy Fat,"
registered dietitian Carrie Dennett explores evidence that
higher fat dairy foods (such as cheese) may not necessarily be
totally bad for us. Notice the word may. Here’s why:
(about 70 percent) of the fat in most cheese is the saturated
type. And there is plenty of evidence that a high intake
of saturated fat raises the cholesterol levels in our blood.
There is also good evidence that we can reduce our risk for
having a heart attack if we can lower the LDL fraction of
cholesterol in our blood. However, scientists have yet to find
the direct link to prove that saturated fat causes heart
attacks. (I know, it’s blurry.)
or may not mean open season on party cheese balls. But it adds
to some growing evidence that high fat dairy foods such as
whole milk, cheese and full fat yogurt, may not be as harmful
to our hearts as once thought.
new way of looking at nutrition, say the experts who study
these things. Instead of individual nutrients (such as
saturated fat), we eat food — complex mixtures of protein,
fat, carbs and other nutrients. Milk for example, is reported
to contain 400 different types of fats … some saturated,
some not. And perhaps it’s how these fats are packaged with
other substances that might explain why the saturated
fat/cheese issue is still murky.
example, dairy foods contain a fat (fatty acid, actually)
called CLA or Conjugated Linoleic Acid. CLA is a naturally
occurring trans fat — different from the dreaded trans fats
currently being removed from our food supply. As opposed to
the harmful types of trans fats, there is some evidence that
CLA may be beneficial with respect to heart disease, cancer,
obesity, osteoporosis and the immune system. And since CLA is
a fat, it is more available in full fat versions of milk and
there’s the health differences between fermented and
unfermented foods, say experts. Yogurt and cheese —
fermented, cultured dairy foods — appear to have a
health-enhancing edge over butter and fluid milk. For example,
some studies have shown that yogurt is associated with a
reduced risk for weight gain, possibly due to probiotic
"good bacteria" used in the culturing process.
that we’re totally confused, what’s the best advice for
cheese-infested holiday get-togethers? Remember that extra fat
in food — any food — adds extra calories which contribute
to weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels. Indulge, but
do it in small servings.