Context:Cheese may affect lipids and lipoproteins differently than other high-fat dairy foods.

Objective:The present systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to evaluate randomized controlled trials that examined the effect of cheese consumption compared with another food product on blood lipids and lipoproteins.

Data Sources:A systematic literature search of the MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, CAB Abstracts, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and the clinicaltrials.gov website was performed.

Study Selection:A total of 12 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were identified that examined the effect of cheese consumption on blood lipids and lipoproteins in healthy adults.

Data Extraction: A meta-analysis of 5 RCTs that compared the effects of hard cheese and butter, both of which had a similar ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids (P/S ratio), was performed.

Data Synthesis:Compared with butter intake, cheese intake (weighted mean difference: 145.0 g/d) reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) by 6.5% (−0.22 mmol/l; 95%CI: −0.29 to −0.14) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) by 3.9% (−0.05 mmol/l; 95%CI: −0.09 to −0.02) but had no effect on triglycerides. Compared with intake of tofu or fat-modified cheese, cheese intake increased total cholesterol or LDL-C, as was expected on the basis of the P/S ratio of the diets. There was insufficient data to compare intake of cheese with intake of other foods.

Conclusion:Despite the similar P/S ratios of hard cheese and butter, consumption of hard cheese lowers LDL-C and HDL-C when compared with consumption of butter. Whether these findings can be attributed to calcium, specific types of saturated fatty acids, or the food matrix of cheese warrants further research.

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