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Jarlsberg Cheese Has Beneficial Health Effects

Jarlsberg cheese Credit: Wikipedia

Good news for cheese lovers. A recent well-done study found that eating a little Jarlsberg cheese every day is good for the bones as well as for metabolic markers in the blood, such as total cholesterol levels. A little bit of Camembert cheese just didn't have those beneficial effects.

Jarlsberg cheese is a Norwegian cow's milk cheese. The beneficial effects of the cheese are thought to be because it naturally contains vitamin K2 and 1.4-dihydroxy-2naphtoic acid (DHNA) - both necessary for bone health. Studies find that low intake of vitamin K2 is linked with increased risk of bone fractures. Jarlsberg contains the bacteria Proprionebacterium freudenreichii, which produces vitamin K and DHNA.

An earlier study by the Norwegian researchers found that eating 57 grams of Jarlsberg cheese (about 2 ounces) daily was optimal. Camembert was chosen because it is a cheese without vitamin K, but with similar fat and protein content. Women participated in this study, but it is thought that the results also apply to men.

Bottom line: Eat a little Jarlsberg cheese frequently for your health. Enjoy!

From Medical Xpress: Small daily portion of Jarlsberg cheese may help to stave off bone thinning

A small (57 g) daily portion of Jarlsberg cheese may help to stave off bone thinning (osteopenia/osteoporosis) without boosting harmful low density cholesterol, suggest the results of a small comparative clinical trial, published in the open access journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

The effects seem to be specific to this type of cheese, the findings indicate.

Jarlsberg is a mild and semi-soft, nutty-flavored cheese made from cow's milk, with regular holes. It originates from Jarlsberg in eastern Norway. Previous research indicates that it may help boost levels of osteocalcin, a hormone that is associated with strong bones and teeth, but it's not clear if this effect is specific to Jarlsberg or any type of cheese.

In a bid to find out, the researchers studied 66 healthy women (average age 33; average BMI of 24) who were randomly allocated to adding either a daily 57 g portion of Jarlsberg (41) or 50 g of Camembert cheese (25) to their diet for 6 weeks. At the end of this period, the group eating Camembert was switched to Jarlsberg for another six weeks.

Jarlsberg and Camembert have similar fat and protein contents, but unlike Camembert, Jarlsberg is rich in vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone (MK), of which there are several varieties.

The short-chained MK-4 is found in animal products such as liver. The long-chained MK-7, MK-8, MK-9 and MK-9(4H) originate from bacteria, and occur in certain fermented foods, such as cheese. Jarlsberg is particularly rich in both MK-9 and MK-9(4H).

Every six weeks blood samples were taken from all the participants to check for key proteins, osteocalcin, and a peptide (PINP) involved in bone turnover. Vitamin K2 and blood fat levels were also measured.

Blood sample analysis showed that the key biochemical markers of bone turnover, including osteocalcin, and vitamin K2 increased significantly after 6 weeks in the Jarlsberg group.

Among those in the Camembert group, levels of PINP remained unchanged while those of the other biochemical markers fell slightly. But they increased significantly after switching to Jarlsberg. PINP levels also increased.

Blood fats increased slightly in both groups after 6 weeks. But levels of total cholesterol and LDL (harmful) cholesterol fell significantly in the Camembert group after they switched to Jarlsberg.

Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c)—-the amount of glucose stuck in red blood cells—fell significantly (by 3%) in the Jarlsberg group, while it rose sharply (by 2%) in those eating Camembert. But after switching to Jarlsberg HbA1c fell significantly in this group too.

Calcium and magnesium fell significantly in the Jarlsberg group but remained unchanged in the Camembert group. After switching cheese, calcium levels dropped in this group too, possibly reflecting increased uptake of these key minerals in bone formation, say the researchers.

"Daily Jarlsberg cheese consumption has a positive effect on osteocalcin, other [markers of bone turnover], glycated hemoglobin and lipids," write the researchers, concluding that the effects are specific to this cheese.

The bacteria (Proprionebacterium freudenreichii) in Jarlsberg that produces MK-9-(4H) also produces a substance called DHNA, which, experimental studies suggest, might combat bone thinning and increase bone tissue formation, and possibly explain the increase in osteocalcin, they add.

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