Cheese is high in cholesterol, but, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines from 2015, there is no clear link between the cholesterol-rich foods that a person eats and their blood cholesterol levels.
Instead, it is the saturated fat in cheese that is responsible for raising cholesterol levels.
However, the research is mixed. A study from 2015 found no relationship between eating dairy products and heart disease after the age of 55. In fact, this study found that people who ate high-fat dairy products were less likely to die of a stroke.
A small-scale 2015 study compared people who ate a low-fat cheese or a Gouda-like cheese with a control group who limited their cheese intake for 8 weeks. The researchers found no difference between the groups’ blood cholesterol levels.
A 2017 study found a complicated relationship between dairy consumption and health risk factors.
While cheese can play a role in raising cholesterol levels, in moderation it can be included as part of a varied and healthful diet. A person may wish to talk to a dietician about how their dietary choices might affect their cholesterol levels.
Should you avoid cheese if you have high cholesterol?
Because the research is mixed, it is not possible to make a general recommendation that people with high cholesterol should refrain from eating cheese.
Instead, it is essential to consider the diet as a whole. Other foods may either lower or raise cholesterol when people eat them with cheese.
For example, a high carbohydrate diet may increase cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol, in people who eat full-fat dairy products such as cheese.
Cholesterol is not the only factor to consider when eating cheese. Most cheeses are high in sodium, which can elevate blood pressure. Cheese is also a high-fat food, so people who are trying to lose weight may want to reduce their cheese intake.
People who want to eat cheese may need to make other adjustments to their diet, such as reducing the sodium they get from processed foods or cutting back on red meat.
A doctor or dietitian can help to create a diet plan consisting of meals that taste good, work well with a person’s lifestyle, and reduce their risk of heart problems.