If you are trying to slim down, you may have crossed cheese off the menu.
But scientists have discovered it may actually help prevent diabetes – an illness often triggered by being overweight.
They claim that eating just two slices of cheese a day cuts the risk of type 2 diabetes by 12 per cent.
The findings go against current health guidelines, which advise cutting back on dairy products and other high-fat foods to help prevent the illness.
Around 2.5million Britons have diabetes. Of these, 90 per cent suffer from type 2, which is often caused by being very overweight.
But experts fear another million have the condition, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, blindness and nerve problems, without yet having been diagnosed.
British and Dutch researchers looked at the diets of 16,800 healthy adults and 12,400 patients with type 2 diabetes from eight European countries, including the UK.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that those who ate at least 55g of cheese a day – around two slices – were 12 per cent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The risk fell by the same amount for those who ate 55g of yoghurt a day.
For years NHS guidelines have advised against eating too much dairy, cake or red meat as they are high in saturated fat. This is thought to increase cholesterol and raise the risk of diabetes.
But the researchers – including academics from the Medical Research Council, Cambridge – say not all saturated fats are as harmful as others, and some may even be beneficial.
One theory is that the so-called ‘probiotic’ bacteria in cheese and yoghurt lower cholesterol and produce certain vitamins which prevent diabetes.
And cheese, milk and yoghurt are also high in vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, which may help protect against the condition.
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