Cheese, Please

By Charlyn Fargo

May 12, 2017 7 min read

Here's some good news for cheese lovers. Eating cheese and other dairy products does not lead to an increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke, according to an analysis of research.

In a large-scale analysis, researchers found no association between how much cheese, yogurt and milk products people consume and their risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, in one study analyzed, cheese appeared to be linked with a slightly lower risk of CVD.

In a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, scientists at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health at the University of Reading, England analyzed 29 studies representing almost 1 million people and 93,000 deaths.

Their findings showed no association between a diet high in dairy produce and the risk of CVD, CHD or death. "This meta-analysis combining data from 29 prospective cohort studies showed there were no associations between total dairy, high- and low-fat dairy, milk and the health outcomes including all-cause mortality, CHD or CVD," they wrote.

"Further analyses of individual fermented dairy of cheese and yogurt showed cheese to have a two percent lower risk of CVD per 10 g/day, but not yogurt."

Study author Jing Guo said in a statement: "This latest analysis provides further evidence that a diet high in dairy is not necessarily damaging to health. The number of participants in particular gives us a really clear global picture of the neutral association of dairy on heart disease risk, and some indications about the potentially beneficial effect of fermented dairy on heart health, although further studies are needed to confirm this."

Dairy foods offer protein and an array of vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Aim for three servings of dairy foods per day - Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, other cheeses or milk for a healthy diet.

Q and A

Q: Is it safe to use raw ground beef that is red on the outside but gray inside?

A: It should be fine, according to University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter. Meat contains a pigment called myoglobin that turns bright red when exposed to oxygen. Grocery stores typically cover ground beef with a plastic wrap that allows some oxygen to penetrate, so that the surface of the meat turns this appealing red color, which consumers have come to associate with freshness. When ground beef is not exposed to oxygen, the myoglobin turns grayish-brown after a few days. It may look less appetizing, but is safe. If the ground meat is gray or brown throughout, however, that usually indicates that it has been in the package for a while and may be spoiling. If you just bought it, you may want to return it. "Spoilage bacteria," though generally harmless, can make meat smell bad and cause other signs of deterioration. If you still want to eat it, it's essential to cook it thoroughly. Of more concern, ground beef is susceptible to contamination from Salmonella, E.coli and other bacteria that do not affect the color or smell of meat but can make you sick — so it's essential that you handle and cook all ground beef properly. Color is an unreliable indicator of doneness, as the meat can turn brown before it reaches a temperature that kills bacteria; conversely, some ground beef may remain pink after it's cooked to a safe temperature. Meat can also turn gray in the freezer. It's perfectly fine and safe to eat. — UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

RECIPE

This recipe for baked macaroni & cheese with broccoli is a healthy makeover of the classic casserole. It's from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.

Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli

12 ounces whole-wheat macaroni, about 3 cups, uncooked

1 large broccoli crown, chopped (about 4 cups) or 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

2 1/2 cups milk, preferably non-fat, divided

1/4-cup flour

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3/4-teaspoon salt

1/4-teaspoon white pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Crumb topping

3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat

3/4-teaspoon paprika

1/4-teaspoon salt

1/4-teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water boils cook macaroni 4 minutes less than package instructions. Add the raw fresh broccoli if using (the frozen broccoli goes in later if you are using that.) Continue cooking for 2 minutes longer until the pasta is slightly undercooked (the broccoli should be bright green and crisp tender.) Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Meanwhile prepare cheese sauce. Heat 2 cups milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often until steaming hot. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup cold milk, flour, Dijon, 3/4 teaspoon salt and white pepper in a medium bowl until completely smooth. Whisk the flour mixture into the steaming milk and bring to a simmer whisking often until smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. If using the frozen thawed broccoli stir it into the cheese sauce. Stir the cheese sauce into the pasta. Transfer the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Stir together breadcrumbs, paprika, 1/4-teaspoon salt, garlic powder in a small bowl. Drizzle in olive oil and stir until completely combined. Sprinkle the crumbs over the pasta and transfer to the oven. Bake until the pasta is bubbling and the topping is golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings:

Per serving: 401 calories, 20.5 g protein, 62.6 g carbohydrate, 7.4 g fat, 9.5 fiber, 744 mg sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill., and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Nutrition Rd. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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