flickr Quinn Dombrowski
Dairy foods are most often prized for their calcium content, but new research revealed that changes to the gut microbiome, especially from eating fermented dairy products such as cheese, might help explain the “French Paradox” — the phenomenon in which traditional cheeses are linked to low rates of heart disease.
In a small study to investigate the protective effect of dairy foods, Danish scientists randomly assigned 15 healthy men to one of three diets for two weeks: a diet with lots of partly skim (1.5 percent) milk, a diet with lots of semi-hard cow’s cheese, and a control diet with butter but no other dairy products. Both the milk and cheese diets had the same amount of calcium per day (1.7 grams). The men rotated through each diet, with a two-week washout period in between each.
The researchers found that “dairy consumption, especially cheese, can beneficially modify the gut microbiota to increase SFCA levels.” SFCAs (short-chain fatty acids) are compounds produced by gut bacteria that are linked with many health-promoting effects such as a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and inflammatory diseases.
Although there remains a widespread misunderstanding about the role of dairy in healthy diet, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that cheese and other dairy products provide a multitude of health benefits. Not only is cheese an important source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it also works against chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Health-conscious individuals would do well to keep these benefits in mind before eliminating cheese and dairy from their diets. Cheese is not only delicious, but it’s also nutritious.
If you want to learn more about how to taste cheese, the Oldways Cheese Coalition is hosting a free, online cheese-tasting at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 27. You can join them by following these four simple steps:
Step 1. Buy some Parmigiano Reggiano and Le Gruyere AOP from your local cheese shop.
Step 2. Pledge to tune in — and then actually tune in — to the virtual cheese-tasting class, “Taste Cheese LIVE,” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 via oldwaycheese.org.
Step 3. Set up your two cheeses (maybe pour yourself a glass of wine or craft beer for good measure), and go through the cheese-tasting class along with the coalition of experts.
Step 4. Tweet your comments or questions with the hashtag #TasteCheeseLIVE for a chance to have them answered on air.
All the info you need, including the live stream of “Taste Cheese LIVE” on Sept. 27, can be found at www.oldwayscheese.org.