Background: Regular-fat cheese contains a high amount of saturated fat. Therefore, dietary guidelines in many countries recommend the consumption of reduced-fat cheese as opposed to regular-fat cheese. However, the negative effect of regular-fat cheese is still under debate.
Objectives: The aim was to compare the effects of regular-fat cheese with an equal amount of reduced-fat cheese and an isocaloric amount of carbohydrate-rich foods on LDL cholesterol and risk factors for the metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Design: The study was a 12-wk randomized parallel intervention preceded by a 2-wk run-in period. A total of 164 subjects with ≥2 MetS risk factors were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 intervention groups: regular-fat cheese (REG), reduced-fat cheese (RED), or a no-cheese, carbohydrate control (CHO) group. Subjects in the REG and RED groups replaced part of their daily habitual diet with 80 g cheese/10 MJ, whereas subjects in the CHO group did the same with bread and jam corresponding to 90 g and 25 g/10 MJ, respectively.
Results: A total of 139 subjects completed the intervention. The primary outcome, LDL cholesterol, was not significantly different between the REG and RED diets or between the REG and CHO diets. There was no significant difference in HDL cholesterol between the REG and RED diets, but HDL cholesterol tended to be higher with the REG diet than with the CHO diet (0.06 ± 0.03 mmol/L; P = 0.07). Insulin, glucose, and triacylglycerol concentrations as well as blood pressure and waist circumference did not differ significantly between the 3 diets.
Conclusion: A high daily intake of regular-fat cheese for 12 wk did not alter LDL cholesterol or MetS risk factors differently than an equal intake of reduced-fat cheese or an isocaloric amount of carbohydrate-rich foods. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02616471.