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Dairy fat in cheese raises LDL cholesterol less than that in butter in mildly hypercholesterolaemic subjects



To determine whether dairy fat in cheese raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as much as in butter, since epidemiology suggests a different impact on cardiovascular disease.


A randomised crossover trial testing the daily consumption of 40 g dairy fat as butter or as matured cheddar cheese, each of 4 weeks duration, was preceded by and separated by 2-week periods when dietary fat was less saturated.


Free-living volunteers.


A total of 14 men and five women of mean age 56±8 y, with mean total cholesterol of 5.6±0.8 mmol/l.

Main outcome measures:

Plasma cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), HDL cholesterol (HDL-C), triacylglycerol and glucose.


Saturated fat intake was significantly lower during the run-in than during the cheese and butter periods. Mean lipid values did not differ significantly between the cheese and run-in periods, but total cholesterol and LDL-C were significantly higher with butter: total cholesterol (mmol/l): butter 6.1±0.7; run-in 5.6±0.8 (P<0.05; ANOVA with Bonferroni adjustment); vs cheese 5.8±0.6 (P>0.05); median LDL-C (mmol/l): butter 3.9 (3.5–4.1) vs run-in 3.4 (3.0–4.1) (P<0.05; Tukey test); vs cheese 3.7 (3.3–3.9) (P>0.05). Among 13 subjects whose initial LDL-C was >4 mmol/l, the difference between butter (4.4±0.3 mmol/l) and cheese (3.9±0.3 mmol/l) was significant (P=0.014). HDL-C was highest with butter and triacylglycerol with cheese (neither was significant).


A total of 40 g dairy fat eaten daily for 4 weeks as butter, but not as cheese, raised total and LDL cholesterol significantly compared with a diet containing significantly less saturated fat. Dietary advice regarding cheese consumption may require modification.


Partly supported by Dairy Australia.

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We thank Dr Peter Hobman from Murray Goulburn Dairy Company (Melbourne, Australia) for providing the cheese. Dr Peter Parodi was most helpful in discussion related to the project and the manuscript.

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Correspondence to P J Nestel.

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Guarantor: PJ Nestel.

Contributors: PN was involved in all aspects of the study; AC and MC carried out the study and collected the data. None of the authors has a commercial conflict of interest.

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Nestel, P., Chronopulos, A. & Cehun, M. Dairy fat in cheese raises LDL cholesterol less than that in butter in mildly hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 1059–1063 (2005).

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  • plasma cholesterol
  • butter
  • cheese
  • hypercholesterolaemia
  • clinical trial

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