Cheese Research Paper

Americans have long been bewildered by the French paradox: that despite consuming a dream diet full of cheese, baguettes and red wine, people in France have generally low rates of coronary heart disease. By some estimates, the average French person eats 57 pounds of cheese each year—more than in any other country—while the average American eats a measly 34.

Scientists have yet to solve the puzzle. Some point to the resveratrol in red wine as one possibility; a more likely reason, say a growing number of experts, is that we were wrong—or at least partially wrong—to condemn saturated fat as a primary cause of heart disease. A small new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests yet another delicious possibility: cheese.

More research is needed, but in this paper—funded in part by Arla Foods (a Danish food company that produces dairy products) and the Danish Dairy Research Foundation—Danish scientists analyzed data from 15 healthy young men who ate three diets for two weeks. All of the diets had the same amount of calories and fat, but one was rich in 1.5% fat milk, another required eating 1.7 grams of cow cheese per day, and there was a third control diet. The researchers analyzed the men’s urine and feces to figure out how dairy is metabolized and what effect it had on markers of blood cholesterol levels.

When people gorged on dairy products—but especially cheese—their microflora seemed to change. In their feces, researchers saw some metabolites that they know are related to the metabolism of the microflora: short-chain fatty acids like butyrate and propionate both appeared at increased concentrations compared to the control diet. They also had lower levels than the control group of TMAO, a metabolite produced when the body metabolizes choline, which is found in many animal-derived foods, especially red meat. (Lower levels seem to be a good thing; other research has shown that TMAO may help transport cholesterol to the arteries and predicts mortality rates.)

The findings suggest that cheese and milk might help modify the gut bacteria to decrease production of TMAO, the authors write. “I was surprised,” says study co-author Morten Rahr Clausen, a postdoc in the department of food science at Aarhus University in Denmark. “I didn’t expect to find anything in the cheese that would change the microflora.”

MOREShould I Eat Cheese?

The researchers can’t be sure whether the increase in gut-friendly compounds came directly from the cheese or if they were formed by the microbiota, Clausen adds—but they could still have a beneficial effect either way. “I’m not completely sure why, but it seems like the cheese and also milk, but mainly cheese, affects the microbiota after eating cheese and that might affect the composition of the lipids in the blood,” he says.

The study adds a new dimension to our understanding how fermented milk products interact with the body. “The previous mechanism was that calcium binds the fatty acids and they’re just flushed through the gut,” he says. “Our study suggests another mechanism that the cheese might work through.

More research and studies on bigger, more diverse populations are needed before we definitively solve the French paradox, but these results are promising. “We didn’t know beforehand what to look for,” Clausen says. “Sometimes you find something that you didn’t expect.”

Read next: People Who Love Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Have Way More Sex Than Those Who Don’t

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Cheese Research

CDR is the world's premier dairy research center with more than 15 staff members dedicated to cheese research and applications. CDR cheese research, lead by Senior Scientists Mark Johnson and Rani Govindasamy-Lucey, focuses on understanding the various aspects of cheese, as well as the microbes that affect safety, quality, texture and flavor. Research projects include, the study of gas formers in cheese and other defects, nonenzymatic browning of mozzarella, the survival and effects of bacteria including Listeria monocytogene, and much more.

Research projects are generally funded through the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) or Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and are based on requests from such funders. Companies interested in troubleshooting or cheese trials should contact the CDR staff members list on the correlating pages.



A 100-Year Review: Progress on the chemistry of milk and its components
John A. Lucey, Don Otter, David S. Horne
Journal of Dairy Science (Vol. 100, Issue 12)

A 100-Year Review: Cheese production and quality
M.E. Johnson
Journal of Dairy Science (Vol. 100, Issue 12)

Effect of Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate Concentration and Cooking Time on the Physicochemical Properties of Process Cheese
N. Shirashoji, H. Aoyagi, J.J. Jaeggi, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science (Vol. 99, Issue 9)

Effect of Standardizing the Lactose Content of Cheesemilk on the Properties of Low-Moisture, Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
A.C. Moynihan, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, M. Molitor, J.J. Jaeggi, M.E. Johnson, P.L.H. McSweeney, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science (Vol. 99, Issue 10)

Low-sodium Cheddar cheese: Effect of fortification of cheese milk with ultrafiltration retentate and high-hydrostatic pressure treatment of cheese
M. Ozturk, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J. J. Jaeggi, M. E. Johnson, and J. A. Lucey
Department of Food Science, and Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin
Journal of Dairy Science (Vol. 98, Issue 10))

Evaluation of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy as a method for the rapid and direct determination of sodium in cheese
by J.A. Stankey, C. Akbulut, J.E. Romero, S. Govindasamy-Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science, (Vol. 98, Issue 8)

Reduction of Sodium and Fat Levels in Natural and Processed Cheeses: Scientific and Technological Aspects
by Mark E. Johnson, Rohit Kapoor, Donald J. McMahon, David R. McCoy, Raj G. Narasimmon
ResearchGate

Effects of the Concentration of Insoluble Calcium Phosphate Associated with Casein Micelles on the Functionality of Directly Acidified Cheese
by J. Choi, D.S. Horne, M.E. Johnson, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.91, Issue 2 )

Influence of Emulsifying Salts on the Textural Properties of Nonfat Process Cheese Made from Direct Acid Cheese Bases
by C.A. Brickley, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J.J. Jaeggi, M.E. Johnson, P. L.H. McSweeney, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.91, Issue 1 )

Effect of increasing the colloidal calcium phosphate of milk on the texture and microstructure of yogurt
by T. Ozcan, D. Horne, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.94, Issue 11 )

Influence of mixtures of calcium-chelating salts on the physicochemical properties of casein micelles
by S. Kaliappan, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.94, Issue 9 )

Effect of selected Hofmeister salts on textural and rheological properties of nonfat cheese
by J.A. Stankey, M.E. Johnson, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.94, Issue 9 )

Determination of molecular weight of a purified fraction of colloidal calcium phosphate derived from the casein micelles of bovine milk
by J. Choi, D.S. Horne, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.94, Issue 7 )

Standardization of milk using cold ultrafiltration retentates for the manufacture of Swiss cheese: Effect of altering coagulation conditions on yield and cheese quality
by S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J.J. Jaeggi, C. Martinelli, M.E. Johnson, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.94, Issue 6 )

Effect of different curd-washing methods on the insoluble Ca content and rheological properties of Colby cheese during ripening
by M.-R. Lee, M.E. Johnson, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J.J. Jaeggi, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.94, Issue 6 )

Effect of camel chymosin on the texture, functionality, and sensory properties of low-moisture, part-skim Mozzarella cheese
by A.C. Moynihan, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J.J. Jaeggi, M.E. Johnson, J.A. Lucey, P.L.H. McSweeney
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol. 97, Issue 1l )

Effect of various high-pressure treatments on the properties of reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
by M. Ozturk, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J.J. Jaeggi, K. Houck, M.E. Johnson, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.96, Issue 11 )

Insoluble calcium content and rheological properties of Colby cheese during ripening
by M.-R. Lee, M.E. Johnson, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J.J. Jaeggi, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.93, Issue 5 )

Characterization of the Rheological, Textural, and Sensory Properties of Samples of Commercial US Cream Cheese with Different Fat Contents
by M. Brighenti, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, K. Lim, K. Nelson, J.A. Lucey
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.91, Issue 12 )

Short communication: Evidence for methylglyoxal-mediated browning of Parmesan cheese during low temperature storage
by R.D. Divine, D. Sommer, A. Lopez-Hernandez, S.A. Rankin
Journal of Dairy Science ( Vol.95, Issue 5 )

The impact of preacidification of milk and fermentation time on the properties of yogurt
Peng, Y., D. S. Horne, and J. A. Lucey. 2009
Journal of Dairy Science 92:2977–2990

Effect of fortification with various types of milk proteins on the rheological properties and permeability of nonfat set yogurt
Peng, Y., M. Serra, D. S. Horne, and J. A. Lucey. 2009
Journal of Food Science 74:666-673.

Effect of the addition of trisodium citrate and calcium chloride during salting on the rheological and textural properties of Cheddar-style cheese during ripening
Brickley, CA., J. A. Lucey and P. L. H. McSweeney. 2009
International Journal of Dairy Technology 62:527-534

Physicochemical and emulsifying properties of whey protein isolate (WPI)-Dextran conjugate produced in aqueous solution
Zhu, D. S. Damodaran, and J. A. Lucey. 2010
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58:2988-2994

Physical properties of acid milk gels prepared at 37°C up to gelation but at different incubation temperatures for the remainder of fermentation
Peng, Y., D. S. Horne, and J. A. Lucey. 2010
Journal of Dairy Science 93: 1910-1917

Effect of sodium hexametaphosphate concentration and cooking time on the physicochemical properties of pasteurized process cheese
Shirashoji, N., J. J. Jaeggi, and J. A. Lucey. 2010
Journal of Dairy Science 93: 2827-2837

Formation and physical properties of yogurt
Lee, W. J. and J. A. Lucey. 2010
Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science 23:1127-1136

Impact of grating size on the texture and melting properties of re-formed non-fat cheese
Akbulut, C., S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J. A. Lucey, J. J. Jaeggi and M. E. Johnson. 2011
Milchwissenschaft 66:169-172

Impact of different curd washing methods on the insoluble Ca content and rheological properties of Colby cheese during ripening
Lee, M.-R., M. E. Johnson, S. Govindasamy-Lucey, J. J. Jaeggi and J. A. Lucey. 2011
Journal of Dairy Science 94:2692-2700

Determination of molecular weight of a purified fraction of colloidal calcium phosphate derived from the casein micelles of bovine milk
Choi, J., D. S. Horne, and J. A. Lucey. 2011
Journal of Dairy Science Journal of Dairy Science 94:3250-3261

Chromatographic purification and characterization of whey protein-dextran glycation products
Bund, T., Allelein, S., Arunkumar, A., Lucey, J. A., and M. R. Etzel. 2012
Journal of Chromatography, A 1244: 98-105

Association between milk protein gene variants and protein composition traits in dairy cattle
Huang, W., Penagaricano, F., Ahmad, K. R., Lucey, J. A., Weigel, K. A., and H. Khatib. 2012
Journal of Dairy Science 95:440-449

In vitro infant digestion of whey protein – dextran glycates
Böttger, F. H., Etzel, M. R., and J. A. Lucey. 2013
Food Digestion 4(2-3), 76-84

The influence of high hydrostatic pressure on regular, reduced, low and no salt added Cheddar cheese
Ozturk, M.; Govindasamy-Lucey, S.; Jaeggi, J. J.; Johnson, M. E.; Lucey, J. A. 2013
International Dairy Journal 33(2), 175-183


Contacts

Mark Johnson, Assistant Director, Senior Management Team, Senior Scientist
A wealth of knowledge- Mark has been with CDR for more than 30 years. Honored with the NCI Laureate Award and many other awards, Mark is a resource for both staff and industry. As CDR Assistant Director, Mark is a close advisor to the Director and often represents CDR when the Director is traveling. Mark has a Ph.D in Food Science. His research interests include developing, manufacturing and ripening protocols for unique cheeses, the study of cheese characteristics and cheese defects. He also enjoys “talking cheese” with cheesemakers and sharing experiences and insights into the cheese industry.
Phone: 608-262-0275 | Email jumbo@cdr.wisc.edul

Rani Govindasamy-Lucey, Senior Scientist
Rani is responsible for coordinating CDR research projects including company research and work with graduate students. She helps develop new projects, writes grants, oversees project proposal development for company work and published research papers on cheese related topics. She has a doctorate in Food Science and has been with CDR since 1999 and brings industry experience from around the world. Rani enjoys working with the many companies that come to CDR for answers and is happy to be a part of the discovery and research process.
Phone: 608-265-5447 | Email rani@cdr.wisc.edu

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