What are the health benefits of eating cheese?

William W. Li, MD
Internal Medicine

Certain cheeses contain a type of bacteria that can lower your risk of cancer. Find out which kinds of cheese fit the bill by watching this video featuring diet and disease prevention specialist Dr. William Li.


Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Cheese provides many of the same nutritional and health benefits attributed to milk. Cheese contains a high concentration of essential nutrients, in particular high-quality protein and calcium, as well as other nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.

An additional benefit of cheese is that it usually contains beneficial bacteria. For example, Emmental Swiss cheese contains Propionibacterium freudenreichii, a member of the propionic acid-producing bacteria family. Propionic acid nourishes the cells of the colon and has shown metabolic activity, including lowering blood cholesterol levels, improving blood sugar control, preventing the overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans, and enhancing calcium absorption. Furthermore, it produces a growth factor that dramatically stimulates the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifid bacterium species, two important health-promoting bacteria.

Cheese has been shown to help protect against dental caries (cavities). Dental caries result from the breakdown of tooth enamel (i.e., demineralization) by acids produced during the fermentation of sugars and starches by plaque bacteria. The critical pH for demineralization is in the range of 5.2 to 5.7. Human dental plaque acidity studies, which measure a food's cavity causing potential, demonstrate that aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, blue, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Brie, and Gouda prevent plaque pH from falling to a level conducive to the development of caries. Population-based studies also support a beneficial effect of cheese on dental health, as cavities are fewer in areas where cheese consumption is higher.

Because cheese is not usually fortified with vitamin A, it may be a better choice than milk to help delay or minimize age-related bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

More About this Book

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

From the bestselling authors of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the most comprehensive and practical guide available to the nutritional benefits and medicinal properties of virtually everything...

Continue Learning about Health Value Of Foods

Health Value Of Foods

Health Value Of Foods

A healthy diet is rich in foods with high nutritional value, providing your body with the vitamins, minerals and other food nutrients it needs to protect against disease and maintain a healthy weight. To identify healthy foods, it...

's important to read nutrition labels and know the source of your food. Products advertised as whole-grain, organic or fortified may not necessarily be healthy for you. Find out how to get the most health value from various fruits, nuts, spices, oils and vegetables -- and learn which types of red meat and processed foods to avoid -- with expert advice from Sharecare.
More

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.