Cheese intake in large amounts lowers LDL-cholesterol concentrations compared with butter intake of equal fat content

Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1479-84. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.022426. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Background: Despite its high content of saturated fatty acids, cheese does not seem to increase plasma total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations when compared with an equivalent intake of fat from butter. This effect may be due to the high calcium content of cheese, which results in a higher excretion of fecal fat.

Objectives: The objective was to compare the effects of diets of equal fat content rich in either hard cheese or butter or a habitual diet on blood pressure and fasting serum blood lipids, C-reactive protein, glucose, and insulin. We also examined whether fecal fat excretion differs with the consumption of cheese or butter.

Design: The study was a randomized dietary intervention consisting of two 6-wk crossover periods and a 14-d run-in period during which the subjects consumed their habitual diet. The study included 49 men and women who replaced part of their habitual dietary fat intake with 13% of energy from cheese or butter.

Results: After 6 wk, the cheese intervention resulted in lower serum total, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations and higher glucose concentrations than did the butter intervention. Cheese intake did not increase serum total or LDL-cholesterol concentrations compared with the run-in period, during which total fat and saturated fat intakes were lower. Fecal fat excretion did not differ between the cheese and butter periods.

Conclusion: Cheese lowers LDL cholesterol when compared with butter intake of equal fat content and does not increase LDL cholesterol compared with a habitual diet. This trial is registered at as NCT01140165.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Butter*
  • Cheese*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fats
  • Butter
  • Cholesterol

Associated data