Figuring out why the French have low cardiovascular disease rates despite a diet high in saturated fats has spurred research and many theories to account for this phenomenon known as the ”French paradox”. Most explanations focus on wine and lifestyle, but a key role could belong to another French staple: cheese.
Researchers in Denmark, H Zheng et al, compared urine and faecal samples from 15 healthy men whose diets either contained cheese or milk, or who ate a control diet with butter but no other dairy products. They found that those who consumed cheese had higher faecal levels of butyrate, a compound produced by gut bacteria.
Elevated butyrate levels are linked to a reduction in cholesterol. Their results, they say, suggest a role for gut microbes and further shore up the connection between cheese and the French paradox.