Better than Butter

If you’ve been concerned that eating cheese might raise your cholesterol levels, take heart in a new study. Researchers found that people who ate a daily serving of hard cheese for six weeks had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol than they did during a comparable trial with butter. And the cheese eaters’ cholesterol levels were no higher than when they ate their regular diet. Participants spent six weeks eating an increased amount of cheese (equal to 13 percent of their daily consumption of fat), then they returned to their normal diet for two weeks, and then they spent an additional six weeks eating a comparable amount of butter. Each person’s cholesterol count was measured during each stage. Despite consuming more fat than normal, the cheese eaters did not show increases in total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. But during the butter phase, their LDL levels averaged about 7 percent higher. Both the butter and the cheese were made from cow’s milk. Researchers speculated that the high amount of calcium in the cheese may have caused more fat to be excreted.