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

Abstract

Objective:

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.

Design:

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.

Setting:

Free-living volunteers.

Subjects:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusion:

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.

Sponsorship:

Partly supported by Dairy Australia.

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Acknowledgements

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.

Additional information

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). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602211

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602211

Keywords

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

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