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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 10:47 GMT
A 'cheese' that lowers cholesterol
Cheese is usually seen as a cause of high cholesterol
Scientists have developed a cheddar "cheese" that actually lowers cholesterol.

The product, called "A Healthy Alternative to Cheese", follows hot on the heels of cholesterol-lowering margarine spreads and yoghurts.

The product, developed by scientists at Cambridge University, has gone on sale at Tesco stores around the UK.

This product is to all intents and purposes the same as a normal cheddar

Michael Seymour, Tescos
It looks, tastes, and smells just like normal cheddar cheese - but contains a special natural ingredient which stops harmful cholesterol from getting into the body.

Early tests suggest the cheese alternative can cut cholesterol by as much as 20% in just three weeks.

It is made from milk which has had all of its dairy fat removed and replaced with a vegetable oil which is naturally high in plant sterols.

These plant sterols act to block off special receptor sites, preventing cholesterol from getting into the blood stream.

Early results

Tests carried out at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen found that it reduced cholesterol levels in almost all those who ate it.

The average person would need to eat 65g of the product - the amount you would put onto a baked potato - each day to obtain a 10-13% reduction in cholesterol.

The cheese alternative, which is fairly mild, is being made by craftsmen from a West Country Farmhouse cheese maker.

It is produced in exactly the same traditional manner which has been used to make cheddar cheese for centuries.

Professor Nigel Slater of the Chemical Engineering department of Cambridge University, who help to develop the product said it would provide a realistic alternative for people with high cholesterol levels.

He said: "We were approached to make a cheese product that was low in cholesterol and high in polyunsaturates.

"It was vital that we used existing processes and natural ingredients, worked into a traditional West Country recipe, to ensure cheese fans with high cholesterol got the alternative they were looking for."

Benefits

Michael Seymour, cheese expert at Tesco, said: "This product is to all intents and purposes the same as a normal cheddar.

"You can eat it in the same way - on crackers or grated on a baked potato - but the benefit here is that it actually is really good for you".

He added: "Cheddar accounts for a incredible 60% of the British cheese market and as we wanted to create a product which most people would enjoy eating we tried to make it as similar as possible to cheddar.

"The great thing about this product is that, unlike with cholesterol-lowering margarines, it is easy to eat the recommended daily allowance by including it in just one main meal each day".

See also:

03 Jul 01 | UK
03 Aug 01 | Health
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