No Whey! 12 Surprising, Persuasive Reasons to Eat Dairy Today

Live longer, feel better, lose weight: Dairy has some powerful health benefits! Read on for surprising facts from the cow barn that will get you moo-ving straight to the dairy aisles.

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Some cheeses have anti-inflammatory properties.

Some cheeses have anti-inflammatory properties.Neilson Barnard/Stringer/Getty Images
Scientists recently found that Roquefort, the coveted blue-molded French cheese, has anti-inflammatory properties which can help protect against cardiovascular disease and may help account for the low incidence of heart disease in France. Researchers hope to extract Roquefort’s beneficial traits to use in medicine and anti-aging remedies. Experts speculate that the health benefits might be linked to the qualities of molded, fermented cheeses, so try to incorporate other types like Camembert into your diet as well.

Eating cheese and fermented dairy products may help reduce the risk of diabetes.

Eating cheese and fermented dairy products may help reduce the risk of diabetes.Courtesy Murray's Cheese Shop
According to a 2012 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, having at least 55g of cheese a day which comes out to about two slices, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 12 percent (as compared with those who don't eat cheese). Researchers speculate this could be because of the probiotic bacteria present in cheese and yogurt which can lower cholesterol and create certain vitamins which shield against diabetes.

You can prevent tooth decay by eating cheese after a meal.

You can prevent tooth decay by eating cheese after a meal.Getty Images
In Harold McGee's book On Food and Cooking, he explains that  eating cheese prevents acid secretions from clinging to your teeth: "Calcium and phosphate from the cheese diffuse into the bacterial colonies and blunt the acid rise." Follow the French's lead and treat yourself to a small cheese and fruit platter after dinner.

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Eating dairy helps with sleeplessness.

Eating dairy helps with sleeplessness.Getty Images
For those suffering symptoms of insomnia, a protein naturally occurring in milk may improve sleep quality and next-day alertness. Additionally, tryptophan which raises levels of serotonin and melatonin, both of which aid in catching a good night's sleep. Unlike turkey (also rich in tryptophan) which leaves you with a groggy, heavy feeling, an added benefit of having milk, cheese, or yogurt is they are easier on your stomach and rich in calcium, which promotes transforming tryptophan into calming melatonin.

Most cheeses are naturally gluten free.

Most cheeses are naturally gluten free.Getty Images
Even those blue cheeses that are made using the traditional technique of growing penicillium roqueforti on bread loaves contain far less than the commonly accepted threshold of 20 parts per million of gluten.


You can eat cheese even if you're lactose intolerant.

You can eat cheese even if you're lactose intolerant.Michael Blann/Thinkstock
Aged cheeses (like Asiago, Parmesan and bleu cheese) contain little or no lactose. So even people with lactose intolerance should be able to eat aged cheeses since all the lactose (milk sugar) has been converted by bacteria to lactic acid. Additionally, all natural cheeses are very low in lactose. Most of the lactose is removed when the curds are separated from the whey when making cheese, so these shouldn't pose any issues as well.

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You can pair dairy with a spicy meal to slash the heat.

You can pair dairy with a spicy meal to slash the heat.iStockphoto
Drinking milk afterwards or combining spicy foods with a dollop of yogurt helps lower the spiciness. In India, parents often use plain yogurt mixed in spicy foods to help their young children eat the same foods while cutting the heat and removing the need to prepare multiple meals for the family.

It keeps you full.

It keeps you full.iStockphoto
As a filling snack or an addition to a hearty sandwich, cheese can help you keep satiated longer. A study published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics found that children who snacked on a combination of cheese and vegetables consumed 72% fewer calories than children who were served potato chips alone.

It's a great source of protein.

It's a great source of protein.Courtesy Murray's Cheese Shop
Your go-to sources of protein may be chicken, fish or beans but cheese is a protein-rich food as well. Harder styles of cheese, like parmesan, have higher protein contents than softer cheeses, with some parmesans clocking in at nearly 11 grams per ounce.

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You can keep your cheese from going moldy.

You can keep your cheese from going moldy.iStockphoto
Simply wrap it in a paper towel soaked in white vinegar and place it in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. The acid from the vinegar prevents mold from forming. Some note that vinegar may affect the flavor of the cheese, so if this is a concern for you, use a vegetable peeler o remove mold from a firm cheese. In general, if cheeses (other than fresh cheeses and blue cheeses) develop a blue-green mold on the exterior, you can make a cut about an inch below the moldy area and the rest of it should be fine to eat. 

You can save your rinds for soup!

You can save your rinds for soup!Getty Images
Parmigiano rinds work great, but save rinds from any of your favorite hard cheeses to use them as "soup bones" to add flavor a vegetarian broth. Many cheese shops sell rinds for this very purpose; just ask if you need any assistance finding them.

You can make feta healthier.

You can make feta healthier.
This herbaceous, salty, flavorful cheese (which is packed in salted water) can be soaked in water for a few minutes and rinsed thoroughly, before tossing into salads or adding to pastas, to reduce sodium levels dramatically without really changing the flavor.

Sources: Trina Robertson, R.D. and Nutritionist from Dairy Council of California; The Cheese Course; HealthyEating.Org; Janet Fletcher author of Cheese & Beer; Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings by Tenaya Darlington, with additional information from Emilio Mignucci (cookbook contributor and third generation owner of Di Bruno Bros.); Murray's Cheese; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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