Live Heart Healthy. Live Well & Live Long

Hold the Cheese, Please

by | Apr 9, 2013

The next time you order your favorite sandwich for lunch, you should consider saying, “No cheese please.”

Let me explain:

We have previously reported in our book Salt Kills that cheese makes the list of the top 10 most unwanted salty items. Recently researchers at Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) in England formally analyzed 30 varieties of cheese in 772 samples purchased from multiple supermarkets. The scientists found strong evidence to support our conclusion.

In a widely-reported press release, CASH spokespersons expressed their strong concern for the high amount of salt in most of the varieties of cheese they tested. Some of the samples were so salty, you might as well have been popping a salt tablet. Of course, the large amount of unnecessary salt being added to cheese has numerous health consequences—all of them bad.

 Prof Graham MacGregor, the chairman of CASH issued the following statement:

The Department of Health must now stop its delaying tactics and set new much lower targets for cheese manufacturers, and make sure they achieve them. The cheese industry must comply if we are to save the maximum number of lives.

You would think the Cheese Industry would respond by saying, “Oh my gosh , let us do something about saving lives.”


Instead, Judith Bryans, PhD, director of the British Dairy Council, issued one of the most troubling statements in a series of less than helpful reactions: “Salt is an integral part of the cheese-making process.”

Translation: We are not cutting the amount of salt in cheese any time soon. Tough, if you have to pay the price with all your health problems.

Another statement: “We are not the fourth leading source of excess salt in the diet. We are actually lower than that.”

  Really, is that what we want hear from you?

And finally, this statement bugs me even more than the other two: “[Cheese] is a good source of calcium.”

Let us look at this last statement more closely.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2010 Americans consumed over 33 pounds of cheese per person,. Americans eat cheese with almost every meal; breakfast, lunch, dinner and pretty much all the snacks in between. So what would account for nearly all-postmenopausal women developing some degree of osteoporosis? Not enough cheese?

The reality is that you cannot cheese yourself out of osteoporosis. We now know that the kidney loses already-absorbed calcium while trying to get rid of the excess salt that you keep adding. As a result, “you are walking around with a hole in the kidney that leaks calcium,” according to one of my nephrology (kidney specialist) colleagues. So you are actually cheesing yourself into osteoporosis.

The dairy industry is not serious about cutting salt in cheese. The best way to protect yourself  is to cut all the sources of excess salt in your food. That includes cheese.


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