This cheese could be the latest superfood with unique properties to improve bone health

Eating small amounts of a particular Norwegian cheese might help keep bones from weakening without raising cholesterol, a new study has found.

Researchers in Norway found that eating a daily serving (about 57g) of Jarlsberg could help prevent bone thinning without increasing harmful low-density cholesterol, and that the health benefits are unique to this particular cheese.

Jarlsberg is a nutty-flavored soft and semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk, with regular holes. The cheese originates from a town of the same name in eastern Norway.

The Norwegian team hopes that the cheese can help stop osteoporosis and even prevent diabetes, but more research is needed.

ADVERTISEMENT

Previous research suggested it might help increase levels of osteocalcin, a hormone associated with strong bones and teeth, but it was not clear if this effect is specific to Jarlsberg or any type of cheese.

Jarlsberg vs. Camembert

In an attempt to find out, the academics studied 66 healthy women who ate a daily serving of Jarlsberg or 50g of Camembert cheese every day for six weeks.

Both cheeses have similar levels of fat and protein, but Jarlsberg is rich in vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, unlike Camembert.

One form of menaquinone is found in animal products like liver, while others come from bacteria and fermented foods like cheese.

At the end of the six-week period, the Camembert-eating group was allowed to eat at Jarlsberg for another six weeks.

All participants were healthy women with an average age of 33 years and an average weight.

Every six weeks, blood samples were taken from all participants to look for important proteins, osteocalcin, and a peptide (PINP) that helps bones renew themselves and stay young.

The samples showed key signs that bones were renewing and vitamin K2 had increased after six weeks among people who ate a serving of Jarlsberg cheese daily, while for those who ate Camembert, PINP levels remained the same while other indicators of bone health fell slightly.

However, the levels of both PINP and the chemical and biological markers increased significantly after these participants switched to Jarlsberg.

Blood fats increased slightly in both groups, but cholesterol levels fell significantly in people once they switched from Camembert to Jarlsberg.

The amount of glucose in red blood cells was reduced by 3 percent in people who ate Jarlsberg, but increased by 2 percent in people who ate Camembert. Once the Camembert group switched to Jarlsberg, glucose levels fell again.

Calcium and magnesium levels fell in the group that ate Jarlsberg but remained unchanged in the group that ate Camembert.

After switching cheese, calcium levels also fell in this group, possibly reflecting increased absorption of these key bone-building minerals, according to the researchers.

The bacteria in the cheese also produce a substance called DNHA that previous studies have suggested might reduce bone thinning and increase bone tissue formation.

This could explain the increase in osteocalcin, the researchers say.

Positive effects of superfood Jarlsberg

“Daily consumption of Jarlsberg cheese has a positive effect on osteocalcin, other markers of bone turnover, glycosylated hemoglobin and lipids,” reads the report, which concludes that the effects are specific to this cheese.

The findings further suggest that Jarlsberg cheese could help prevent osteopenia, the stage before osteoporosis, as well as metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, although more research would be needed to confirm this.

“This study shows that while calcium and vitamin D are known to be extremely important for bone health, there are other key factors at play, such as vitamin K2, that may not be as well known,” said Professor Sumantra Ray. , executive director of the NNEdPro Global Center for Nutrition and Health, co-owner of the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health in which the study was published.

“Differing methods of preparation mean that there are key differences in the nutrient composition of cheese, which has often been considered a homogeneous food in dietary research to date. This needs to be addressed in future studies.”

“Since this is a small study in young, healthy people designed to explore novel pathways linking diet and bone health, the results should be interpreted with great caution, as study participants will not necessarily be representative of other groups. And it should not be like that”. be taken as a recommendation to eat a particular type of cheese,” Ray said.