A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high daily intake of regular-fat cheese, compared to reduced-fat cheese or an isocaloric amount of carbohydrate-rich foods, did not change LDL cholesterol levels and metabolic syndrome risk factors.

Dietary guidelines for many countries recommend reduced-fat cheese vs. regular-fat cheese due to its high saturated fat content. The negative effect of regular-fat cheese however, is still up for debate. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, aimed to compare the effects of regular-fat cheese with an equal amount of reduced-fat cheese and an isocaloric amount of carbohydrate-rich foods on LDL cholesterol levels and the risk factors for metabolic syndrome

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The team conducted a 12-week, randomized parallel intervention study (n=164) preceded by a 2-week run-in period. Study patients with at least two risk factors for metabolic syndrome were randomize to one of three intervention groups: regular-fat cheese, reduced-fat cheese, or no-cheese, carbohydrate control group. Patients in the regular- and reduced-fat cheese groups substituted part of their daily routine diet with 80g cheese/10MJ whereas patients in the control group did the same with bread and jam corresponding to 90g and 25g/10MJ, respectively. 

Of the 139 patients that completed the intervention, researchers found that LDL cholesterol did not differ significantly between the regular-fat and reduced-fat cheese diets or between the regular-fat cheese and control group diets. In addition, there was no significant difference seen in HDL cholesterol between the regular-fat and reduced-fat cheese groups although the regular-fat cheese group showed higher HDL levels vs. the control group (0.06mmol/L; P=0.07). 

Levels of insulin, glucose, and triacylglycerol, as well as blood pressure and waist circumference did not significantly differ between the three diet arms, the study authors added. 

For more information visit ajcn.nutrition.org.