A diet high in saturated fat usually correlates with greater death rates from coronary heart disease. The French have low cardiovascular diseases despite having a diet high in saturated fats. It is not because of wine or lifestyle but another French staple food "cheese".
Researchers found that people who consumed cheese had higher fecal levels of butyrate, a compound produced by gut bacteria. High levels of butyrate are linked to reduction in cholesterol.
Hanne Bertram, a lead researcher from the department of food science, Aarhus University, Denmark, said, "The results suggest a role for gut microbes and further shore up the connection between cheese and the 'French paradox'."
The researcher and her team compared samples of urine and fecal from 15 healthy men whose diet either contained cheese or milk or who ate a control diet with butter but no other dairy products.
"The study suggests that cheese could be an important piece in the French paradox puzzle. Cheese was associated with a different metabolic response when compared with milk consumption," said Ms. Bertman.
A recent study also found that cheese reduced bad cholesterol when compared to butter with the same fat content, suggesting that high cheese consumption could help explain the French paradox.
The study is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.