Cheese Lovers Could Be Protecting Themselves From Heart Problems

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If a creamy slice of brie or a sharp chunk of cheddar serves as your go-to snack food, you’re in luck. New research says a small portion of this dairy favorite each day could reduce your chances of suffering a stroke or developing heart disease down the line.

In the study, which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers evaluated the results of 15 previous studies that tracked the diet and health outcomes of a collective 20,000 people. And across this massive sample size, they discovered that the people who consumed a matchbox-sized piece of cheese (or 40 grams of cheese) every day were 14 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 10 percent less likely to have a stroke than their non-cheese-eating counterparts.

Now, because the people observed in the study weren’t directly involved with the researchers completing the analysis, it’s difficult to say whether people were healthier¬†because¬†they ate more cheese or if healthier people just happened to eat more cheese overall. But either way, we’re not complaining about this association.

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According to this team of researchers, consuming 40 grams of cheese daily is just enough to raise “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and reduce “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). Cheese naturally contains a fair amount of saturated fat, but its high calcium content helps prevent the body’s full absorption of the fat. It also contains artery-protecting fatty acids, again pointing to a healthier heart. The researchers don’t know how long these protective behaviors last when it comes to the long-term consumption of cheese, but 40 grams a day seems like a safe indulgence to us.

So, cheese lovers, rejoice! Your favorite snack is doing your hunger and your heart all sorts of wonderful favors, and that’s certainly something to feel good about.