Eating Cheese Doesn’t Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

cheese
Eating cheese does not increase the risk of heart disease and death, scientists find. Jon Sullivan/CC

Eating cheese and other dairy products does not lead to an increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke, scientists have said.

In a large-scale analysis, researchers found no association between how much cheese, yoghurt and milk products people consume and their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, in one study analyzed, cheese appeared to be linked with a slightly lower risk of CVD.

In a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, scientists at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) at the University of Reading, England analyzed 29 studies representing almost 1 million people and 93,000 deaths.

Within these studies, the team focused on diet—specifically whether they were high or low in dairy products—and the rate of CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. Analysis included data on 938,465 participants, 93,158 deaths, 28,419 cases of CHD and 25,416 of CVD.

Their findings showed no association between a diet high in dairy produce and the risk of CVD, CHD or death. “This meta-analysis combining data from 29 prospective cohort studies showed there were no associations between total dairy, high- and low-fat dairy, milk and the health outcomes including all-cause mortality, CHD or CVD,” they wrote.

“Further analyses of individual fermented dairy of cheese and yogurt showed cheese to have a two percent lower risk of CVD per 10 g/day, but not yogurt.”

Study author Jing Guo said in a statement: "This latest analysis provides further evidence that a diet that is high in dairy foods is not necessarily damaging to health. The number of participants in particular gives us a really clear global picture of the neutral association of dairy on heart disease risk, and some indications about the potentially beneficial effect of fermented dairy on heart health, although further studies are needed to confirm this."

Julie Lovegrove, another author, adds: "This supports previous findings that dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurts, can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. We will now be investigating the possible ways that dairy foods may impact on health.”