A meta-analysis of 15 observational studies set out to determine how long-term cheese consumption affects the development and risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke.
The researchers’ conclusions showed that there was an inverse relationship between cheese consumption and total risk of CVD, CHD, and stroke.
The 15 studies, which included 200,000 participants, were selected for analysis based on meeting the following criteria: the study design was prospective; the exposure of interest was cheese consumption; the outcome of interest was fatal/nonfatal CVD, CHD, or stroke; and RRs (relative risk) with corresponding 95% Cis (confidence interval) were reported or could be estimated.
“We found that high, compared with low, cheese consumption was significantly associated with 10–14% lower risks of CVD and its subgroups,” researchers wrote.
“Furthermore, there was a somewhat U-shaped association between cheese consumption and overall CVD risk, with the largest risk reduction observed at cheese consumption of approximately 40 g/d (1.5 ounces).”
High-fat vs. low-fat cheese
While low-fat dairy products are considered more favorable than high-fat dairy products by federal nutrition guidelines, the meta-analysis found limited evidence that high-fat dairy could increase the risk of CVD, CHD, or stroke compared to low-fat dairy.
In fact, researchers cited a recent randomized controlled trial of 153 participants that ate high-fat cheese regularly for eight weeks did not increase their total cholesterol or LDL-C levels, but reduced triglycerides among subjects.
“We observed a non-significant inverse association of high-fat cheese consumption with overall CVD risk (RR = 0.74, 95 % CI 0.44–1.24),” they wrote.
Additionally, there was some evidence in the meta-analysis to suggest that cheese consumption and total risk of CVD have a more significant inverse relationship among women, but not men.
“However, the differences between sexes were not statistically significant. Few studies reported findings by the fat content of cheese, and there was no indication of an adverse effect of high-fat cheese consumption on overall CVD risk (RR = 0.74, 95 % CI 0.44–1.24).”
Source: European Journal of Nutrition.
“Cheese consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of prospective studies”
Authors: Guo-Chong Chen, et al.