Is cheese a food as nutritious as it is delicious? On the one hand, cheese is an excellent source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, vitamins A, B2 and B12, not to mention being a complete protein. On the other hand, cheese is also a significant source of saturated fat and sodium in our diets.
To lower saturated fat intake, consuming reduced-fat cheese is sometimes recommended to lower cardiovascular disease risk. Paradoxically, however, there is now a growing body of evidence that people who eat lots of cheese do not have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, including Type 2 diabetes.
The research team at the University of Alberta examined the impact of both reduced and regular-fat cheese on insulin resistance in the bodies of pre-diabetic rats. They found that both types of cheese reduced insulin resistance, which is important to maintain normal blood sugars.
Insulin resistance is a condition that commonly develops with ageing and obesity, leading to high blood glucose and risk factor of CVD and Type 2 diabetes. The objective was to compare how consuming reduced- versus regular-fat cheese affected insulin resistance and to explore biochemical mechanisms that might explain any observed effects.
The most interesting finding in our research was that both reduced and regular-fat cheddar cheese reduced insulin resistance. This suggests that the beneficial effects of cheese might not be related to the amount of fat but to some other component, such as the protein or the calcium.
The study also examined how metabolites in the blood changed after cheese feeding and found similar effects in reduced and regular-fat cheese. The changes are related to a specific type of molecule called phospholipids, which have many functions in the body. Interestingly, low-circulating phospholipids are linked with diabetes and insulin resistance in humans. Further study is now required to understand how cheese regulates phospholipid metabolism and how this relates to insulin resistance.
*The article was originally published by The Conversation Global Perspectives....