Nick-Starichenko /Shutterstock You probably don’t think of cheese as a health, right? food. Well, it turns out there’s some good that comes from putting cheddar on your sandwiches and sprinkling Parmesan over your pasta: Eating cheese daily can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a new meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Nutrition.
In this study, Chinese scientists did a review of 15 studies to look at the effect daily consumption of cheese had on the heart. The review looked at over 200,000 people, monitoring their cheese consumption for 10 years. What they found was that those who ate about 40g (1.41 ounces—about one serving) of cheese daily saw a 14 percent decrease in heart disease risk. Their risk of stroke was also lowered by 10 percent. (Here are 30 other ways to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.)
These results might seem counterintuitive since cheese is high in saturated fat, which, in the past, has been shown to actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. But researchers believe the calcium in cheese helps to boost your good cholesterol while also lowering your bad cholesterol.
Before you start wolfing down the brie, remember that it was just a serving a day, and that this type of study can only draw connections between a behavior like cheese-eating and an outcome like heart disease. It may be possible that people likely to eat cheese are also more likely to exercise, for example (thought the researchers did try to rule out the influence of other healthy behaviors). But whatever the reason, you can feel good about the cheese shredded over your salad or adorning your burger. Any reason to say yes to a cheese plate, and we’re in!