Jarlsberg Wins at Being Cheese

Science has found evidence to support the idea that eating cheese is good for us.

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Cheese board with bread and grapes
Photo: Ben Molyneux (Shutterstock)

Cheese is a well-known antidepressant. I don’t have a source for that because it’s both proven and disproven by science. Low-fat dairy is one of those things they say is good for you, overall, unless you’re allergic or vegan. Lots of cheese can actually give you a drug interaction if you take certain medications, called “the cheese effect.” But anyone who loves cheese will tell you that it makes life better, even if it doesn’t always make us healthier. And one new study potentially points to a cheese that does it all.

Good cheese effect

A new study published by the British Medical Journal has found that Jarlsberg, a mild Norwegian cheese similar to Swiss, can improve bone health without raising one’s cholesterol.

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The study pitted the Norwegian cheese against a French one, Camembert, and found that women who ate 50g of Jarlsberg a day had health benefits that women who ate 50g of Camembert daily did not. Scientists think Jarlsberg came out on top because of the particular kind of bacteria it contains, as well as the fact that it’s rich in vitamin K, which helps build healthy bone tissue.

The women given Jarlsberg also demonstrated a drop in glucose levels, giving scientists hope that the cheese is a good choice to help lower diabetes risk. The Camembert ladies got to switch over to Jarlsberg for six weeks and saw similar benefits in their bone health indicators. Their glucose levels went back down. Also, their cholesterol started to improve. Cheese science!

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Eat more cheese

For health reasons, you can incorporate more Jarlsberg into your diet by putting it on your sandwiches or heading over to the official Jarlsberg website for some inspiration. The vegetarian pizza looked particularly delightful to me, and I’d be cautiously optimistic about the nachos au gratin. They site promises that its chocolate and cheese combo is the “best thing ever,” which I’m absolutely willing to fact-check. And if the figs ever come in on my tree in the backyard, I’ll let you know how this fig toastie turns out.

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The cheese is mild enough to go sweet or savory without asking too much of you, and many recipes incorporate nuts to lean into the natural nuttiness of the cheese.

So, is Jarlsberg the best cheese?

The study was small, only using sixty-six women. If it were for, say, a drug trial, it would not be nearly extensive enough to be considered “proof” that Jarlsberg is the winning cheese, health-wise. However, if you need an excuse to have a wine and cheese night and enjoy semi-soft cow cheese with your friends, tell them it’s a Golden Girls Night and they’re helping stave off osteoporosis.

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