Eating cheese and butter may prolong your life

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Anna Brech
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A new study sheds doubt over the claim that full-fat dairy is bad for you. In fact, it may even promote longevity.

Ask us how much we like cheese and we’d tell you: if the end of the world was approaching, we’d happily settle in with a plateful of brie and cheddar, complete with delicate slithers of comté.

Or maybe we’d just stick a straw into a giant, oozing vat of fondue and be done with it.

So it comes as music to our ears to hear that cheese may actually prolong your life.

And while you’re at it, count full-fat milk and butter into the bargain, too.

Researchers from King’s College London have found that people with a high dairy intake are less likely to die than those who eat no dairy at all.

Anyone for a bit more cheese?

The game-changing study, published in journal The Lancet, tracked the food diaries of 135,000 people in 21 countries over a nine-year period. 

They found that those who ate three servings or more of dairy a day (equating to three teaspoons of butter, three glasses of milk or three 15-gram slices of cheese) were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease or suffer a major stroke than those who ate zero dairy.

They were also significantly less likely to die early compared with those who ate less than half a serving of dairy a day.

Interestingly, this correlation held true whether people consumed full-fat or low-fat dairy

The findings of the study are significant because, as researchers say, “dietary guidelines recommend minimising consumption of whole-fat dairy products, as they are a source of saturated fats and presumed to adversely affect blood lipids and increase cardiovascular disease and mortality”.

They add that “evidence for this contention is sparse”.

Dig in - it’s the healthy thing to do…

The results of the study cannot say whether eating lots of dairy is actually the reason why people live longer; it just highlights a relationship between the two.

Still, in a world where we’ve been taught full-fat dairy is the enemy, it’s certainly intriguing. The authors conclude that “consumption of dairy products should not be discouraged”.

It’s not the first time cheese has heralded the spotlight when it comes to health benefits.

A few years back, scientists found evidence that Roquefort, the luxurious blue cheese from south-west France, could guard against cardiovascular diseases. Yet another study found that cheese is packed with Omega 3s, an essential fatty acid.

Logically, we know that this isn’t a prompt to go chomping through all the fromage; but still it’s rather nice food for thought.

 Now if you’ll excuse us - there’s a Babybel in the fridge with our name on…

Images: Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.