Low-Fat Cheese for Your Heart?

We often think of cheese as that artery-clogging no-no on top of pizza. But a new study suggests cheese might actually be good for your heart -- if you choose low-fat cheese.

Yep. In a study of middle-aged adults, frequent servings of low-fat dairy products served as great anti-inflammatory foods, significantly reducing levels of heart-hampering inflammatory compounds.

Say Cheese
The researchers measured blood levels of three inflammatory markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. And all three compounds were significantly lower in people who got 11 to 14 servings of low-fat dairy products each week compared with people who got fewer than 8 servings. It's good news for your taste buds and your heart, because anti-inflammatory foods help reduce the number of inflammatory compounds in your body and could protect against heart disease. (Taking this vitamin may help bring down bodywide inflammation, too.)

Do More Dairy
Full-fat versions of dairy products are rich in saturated fat, and that means trouble for both your heart and your waistline. But low-fat and nonfat versions, like low-fat cheese, are rich in protein, B vitamins, and minerals that have been credited with more than just anti-inflammatory foods; they are also known to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and lower homocysteine -- a protein linked to heart disease. In the recent study, a cup of low-fat milk or yogurt or an ounce of low-fat cheese each counted as a serving. And every little serving helped. Eating just one extra serving of low-fat dairy per week resulted in a measurable decrease in inflammation. (Not a fan of dairy? Here are six other foods you should eat to keep your heart healthy.)