Sit down, because you're about to read the best news of the year: Eating cheese can actually lower your risk of heart disease. Yes, of course this comes with caveats and consuming it in moderation, but let's just bask in the cheesy golden glow of some new research for a minute.
While cheese does contain a high content of saturated fatty acids — something you definitely want to avoid eating in large quantities — the calcium in cheese means less of the fat is absorbed by the body.
Following an analysis of 15 existing studies on the health effects of eating cheese — which took into consideration the diet and health outcomes of more than 200,000 people — researchers found that on average, people who ate one portion of cheese per day were 14 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 10 percent less likely to have a stroke.
Sound too good to be true? Well, a portion size is around 40 grams — roughly the size of a matchbox. And the authors of the study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, noted that the long-term outcomes of eating cheese daily is still unclear. Also important to note, the researchers didn't track any overall changes in the diets of the people included in the survey, so that may also have had an impact on their heart health.
So, no, we can't really consider cheese to be a "health food," but given its bad rap in the nutrition world, this at least offers the delicious food one redeeming health factor — and an excuse to grab a piece from the party tray at your next holiday gathering.