There’s nothing more decadent than gently lowering ourselves into a plateful of melted cheddar.
However, as it turns out, it may not be quite as deliciously naughty as we first thought…
While there’s no denying that you can always have too much of a good thing, it turns out that mozzarella, stilton, camembert and the gang are packed full of health benefits.
Which means that chowing down on cheese errs on the healthier side of snacking.
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Well, comparatively speaking, at least.
Who knew, eh?
Thought you and cheese were just friends-with-benefits? Prepare to enter into something far more serious…
1. Cheese is key to a good night’s sleep
We’ve all heard that eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares – but, as it turns out, that’s utter nonsense.
In fact, eating cheese before bed has been shown to boost your chances of a good night’s sleep – with some evidence suggesting that your dreams could even be related to the type of cheese you scoff before you hit the hay.
Research shows that Blue Stilton-eaters have vivid dreams, cheddar fans dream about celebrities, Red Leicester munchers dream about their childhood and their families, and Lancashire cheese people dream about work.
All of those who nibbled on Cheshire cheese before bed reported that they had “nice sleeps” but that they were utterly dreamless.
2. It boosts your happiness levels
Cheese contains tryptophan, which is proven to improve your mood. Some studies have even shown that tryptophan can help to manage depression, stress, and anxiety – and that it could be as effective as light therapy.
3. It’s packed full of healthy omega-3s
Chuck Benbrook, research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been involved in several studies about dairy, including one from 2013 that found organic dairy has 62% more healthy omega-3s than conventional milk, partly due to the cow’s diet of fresh grass.
That’s enough for him to give cheese a very big thumbs-up – although he does advise people to stick to the organic full-fat stuff wherever possible.
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“Pasture grasses and legumes provide milk cows with the building blocks for health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, as well as the rich, earthy flavour in grass-fed whole milk,” he said.
Omega-3 has been ascribed plenty of health benefits, with many experts claiming that the fatty acids boost brain health, protect the heart, and ease stiff and aching joints.
4. It protects your bones and teeth
Yes, dairy products are filled with calcium, vitamin d, and protein, which help to promote good bone and dental health - but cheese is the star of the show, thanks to its added range of B-complex vitamins. These help your body to better absorb the calcium, not to mention distribute it effectively throughout your entire body.
5. It guards against cardiovascular diseases
Well, one particular type of cheese can, at least.
Inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular diseases and ageing processes such as the loss of skeletal muscle. Acidification often accompanies inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, making the anti-inflammatory agents of Roquefort in acidic environments even more relevant.
Researchers said the findings could indicate why the French enjoy good health and high life expectancy, despite a diet that is traditionally high in saturated fat.
6. It improves your metabolism
Iwona Rudkowska, a researcher at the CHU de Québec Research Centre, conducted a study which linked dairy consumption to better metabolic health. This is thought to be down to the fact that cheese contains high levels of butyric acid, a compound which has been linked to reduced obesity, reduced cholesterol, and higher metabolism. This allows your body to burn energy effectively, not to mention helps protect against metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
7. It fends off illness
The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found within cheese is an antioxidant, helping to enhance your immune system and protect your body against colds, flus, and bugs.
8. It aids digestion
Cheese contains plenty of probiotics, often referred to as the “good bacteria” that are so crucial to a healthy gut. They keep your digestive system running smoothly, and can even help to treat the likes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhoea , and more.
9. It’s a good source of protein
A single serving of hard cheese should give you around 8 grams of protein (often dubbed the building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood). Considering the fact that women need 46 grams of the stuff per day, it's a good way to get a large and healthy serving in one go.
10. It can do wonders for your sex life
Forget oysters, chocolate and the like; a plate of gooey cheese on toast could just be the sexiest of all the aphrodisiacs. According to a recent survey, grilled cheese lovers have considerably more sex than their fromage-hating counterparts.
The results showed that 73% of grilled cheese lovers have sex at least once a month, compared with 63% of those who turn their noses up a gooey mess of melted mozarella.
Better still, 32% of grilled cheese lovers have sex at least six times a month, compared with 27% of non-grilled cheese lovers.
What’s not to love about that?
It goes without saying that cheese does have its downsides, too, containing both sodium and saturated fat.
However, if you’re sensible and enjoy cheese in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet, you should be absolutely fine.