Eating small amounts of a particular Norwegian cheese can help prevent bones from weakening without raising cholesterol, a new study has found.
Researchers in Norway have found that eating a daily portion (around 57g) of Jarlsberg could help prevent bone thinning without raising harmful low-density cholesterol, and that the health benefits are unique to this such a particular cheese.
Jarlsberg is a soft, semi-soft, nutty-flavored cheese made from cow’s milk, with regular holes. The cheese comes from a town of the same name in eastern Norway.
The Norwegian team hopes that the cheese can help stop osteoporosis and even prevent diabetes, but more research is needed.
Previous research suggested that it may help increase levels of osteocalcin, a hormone associated with strong bones and teeth, but it was unclear whether this effect is specific to Jarlsberg or any type of cheese.
Jarlsberg vs Camembert
To find out, academics studied 66 healthy women who ate a daily portion of Jarlsberg or 50g of Camembert cheese every day for six weeks.
Both cheeses have similar fat and protein levels, but Jarlsberg is rich in vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, unlike Camembert.
One form of menaquinone is found in animal products like liver, while others come from bacteria and fermented foods like cheese.
At the end of the six-week period, the group consuming Camembert was allowed to eat Jarlsberg for another six weeks.
All participants were healthy women with an average age of 33 years and an average weight.
Blood samples were taken from all participants every six weeks to check for important proteins, osteocalcin and a peptide (PINP) that helps bones renew and stay young.
The samples showed key signs of bone turnover and increased vitamin K2 after six weeks among people who ate a portion of Jarlsberg cheese daily, while for those who ate Camembert, PINP levels remained while other indicators of bone health dropped slightly.
However, levels of both PINP and chemical and biological indicators increased significantly after these participants switched to Jarlsberg.
Blood fats increased slightly in both groups, but cholesterol levels fell significantly in people once they made the switch from Camembert to Jarlsberg.
The amount of glucose in red blood cells fell by 3% in people who ate Jarlsberg, but increased by 2% in people who ate Camembert. Once the Camembert group switched to Jarlsberg, glucose levels dropped again.
Calcium and magnesium levels dropped in the group that ate Jarlsberg, but remained unchanged in the group that ate Camembert.
After switching to cheese, calcium levels also dropped in this group, possibly reflecting increased absorption of these key minerals in bone formation, the researchers said.
The bacteria in the cheese also produce a substance called DNHA that previous studies have suggested could reduce bone loss and increase bone formation.
This could explain the increase in osteocalcin, the researchers say.
Positive effects of the superfood Jarlsberg
“Daily consumption of Jarlsberg cheese has a positive effect on osteocalcin, other markers of bone turnover, glycated hemoglobin and lipids,” says the report, which concludes that the effects are indeed specific to this cheese.
The results further suggest that Jarlsberg cheese could therefore help prevent osteopenia, the stage before osteoporosis, as well as metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, although further research would be needed to confirm this.
“This study shows that while calcium and vitamin D are known to be extremely important for bone health, there are other key factors at play, such as vitamin K2, which may not be as well known,” he said. said Professor Sumantra Ray, executive director of the NNEdPro Global Center for Nutrition and Health, which co-owns the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health in which the study was published.
“The different preparation methods mean that there are key differences in the nutrient composition of cheese, which has so far been considered a homogeneous food in dietary research. This needs to be addressed in future studies.”
“As this is a small study in young, healthy people designed to explore new pathways linking diet and bone health, the results should be interpreted with great caution, as the study participants did not they will necessarily be representative of other groups. And it shouldn’t. be taken as a recommendation to eat a particular type of cheese,” Ray cautioned.
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