Cheese is an excellent source for minerals such as magnesium and calcium, vitamins A, B2 and B12 and full of protein. However, cheese is also a source of saturated fat and sodium. To be able to lower our saturated fat intake, we need to consume reduced-fat cheese as it can help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Recently, there is a growing body of evidence that people who eat a lot of cheese do not have the risk of cardiovascular disease, include diabetes. The research team at the University of Alberta studied the impact of both reduced and regular fat cheese on insulin resistance in the bodies of rats that were pre-diabetic. They found both types of cheese reduced insulin resistance, and this is important to maintain normal blood sugars.
Most of the studies in the past were focused on the impact of cheese on cardiovascular disease have been observational. Researchers have studied the eating behavior of numbers of people for years and correlated the amount of cheese and other dairy foods that they ate with the development of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and high cholesterol.
The studies are useful to establish trends that are associated with eating patterns, but they can't definitely say that a particular food can cause or prevent disease. To understand it better, there were studies that examined the effects of foods in a controlled setting and they were deemed useful. The studies can be conducted in humans but there are limits. Studies in laboratory animals are useful, especially in understanding biochemical mechanisms.
One of the highlights of the research was that both reduced and regular fat cheddar cheese was able to reduce insulin resistance in the rats. This means that the beneficial effects of cheese are not really related to the amount of fat intake, but to other components such as calcium or protein.
The study also examined how metabolites in the blood changed after cheese consumption, and found similar effects in reduced and regular fat cheese. The changes are said to be related to a specific type of molecule called the phospholipids which have a lot of functions in the body. Low-circulating phospholipids are linked with insulin resistance and diabetes in humans.
Researchers are pursuing this line of research to understand how cheese regulates phospholipid metabolism and how it can relate to insulin resistance.