Trendy type of Norwegian cheese may prevent bone thinning, new study finds

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According to new findings, a small serving of Jarlsberg can help prevent weakening of bones without raising cholesterol.

The researchers say the health benefits are unique to the Nordic dairy product and not found in other types of cheese.

Jarlsberg is a nutty, soft, semi-firm cheese with holes that is made from cow’s milk.

He comes from a town of the same name in eastern Norway.

Researchers hope that in the future cheese could stop osteoporosis and help prevent diabetes, but say more research is needed.

Previous research had suggested that it increased levels of osteocalcin, a hormone that gives us strong bones and teeth.

It was unclear whether this link was specific to Jarlsberg cheese or applied to all types of cheese.

To find out, the researchers studied 66 healthy women who were given either a 0.12-pound (57-gram) piece of Jarlsberg or a 50-gram serving of camembert every day for six weeks.

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The participants were all in good health, of healthy weight and had an average age of 33 years.

Then the group that had been munching Camembert was invited to snack on Jarlsberg for six weeks.

Both cheeses have similar levels of fat and protein, but Jarlsberg is also high in vitamin K2 while Camembert is not.

One form of vitamin K2 is found in animal products such as liver, while others come from bacteria and are found in fermented foods such as cheese.

Blood samples were taken from the participants to check for the presence of important proteins, osteocalcin and a peptide (PINP), which helps bones renew and stay young.

Blood samples showed key signs of bone turnover and increased vitamin K2 after six weeks in people who ate Jarlsberg.

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Among people who ate camembert, PINP levels remained the same while those of other indicators of bone health decreased slightly.

Levels of PINPs and chemical and biological indicators increased significantly after their visit to Jarlsberg.

Blood fats increased slightly in both groups, but cholesterol levels fell in people once they switched from camembert to jarlsberg.

The amount of glucose in red blood cells decreased by 3% in people who ate Jarlsberg, but increased by 2% in people who ate Camembert.

Once they switched to Jarlsberg, glucose levels dropped again.

Levels of bone-weakening calcium and magnesium dropped in people who ate Jarlsberg but were unchanged in people who ate camembert.

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Bacteria in cheese produce the substance DNHA, which previous studies have shown may reduce bone thinning and increase bone tissue formation. They say this could explain the increase in osteocalcin.

“Daily consumption of Jarlsberg cheese has a positive effect on osteocalcin, other markers of bone turnover, glycated hemoglobin and lipids,” says author Dr. Helge Elnar Lundberg of Skjetten Medical Center in Norway, whose study was published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.

Professor Sumatra Ray, Executive Director of the NNEdPro Global Center for Nutrition and Health, co-owner of the review, said: “This study shows that while calcium and vitamin D are known to be extremely important for bone health, there are other important factors at play such as vitamin K2, which is perhaps less well known.

“Different methods of preparation mean that there are key differences in the nutritional composition of cheese, which has often been considered a homogeneous food in dietary research to date.”

He cautioned that this was a small study in young, healthy people (and) that the results should be interpreted with caution and not as a specific recommendation.

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