If you love cheese, then you would be better off digging into the one made from yaks milk rather than cows milk, for a new study has found that the former contains higher levels of several healthful fatty acids.
The study, by Brian W. McBride and colleagues at Canada's University of Guelph, compared the fatty acid composition of yak cheese from Nepal with that of cheddar cheese obtained from Canada.
The yak cheese was three times higher in omega-3 fatty acids than the cheddar cheese. Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for various health benefits, including heart health.
In particular, yak cheese was rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid also found in flaxseeds and other plants.
The yak cheese was also richer in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to have "a range of positive health benefits" against cancer, body fat gain, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.
"The results suggest that cheese from yak, grazed on Himalayan alpine pastures, may have a more healthful fatty acid composition compared to cheese manufactured from dairy cattle fed grain-based diets," the study states.
Levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy for the heart, were also significantly higher in the yak cheese, the researchers say.
Yak cheese has only recently become available in the United States and is available in select gourmet food stores.
The study appeared in the March 12 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.