All things cheese in France

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Cancer-fighting fat and French cheese

Following blogs can sometimes lead to some interesting places. Recently, I glided into the website Eatwild (, which professes to be ‘your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles’ and came across a discussion about why French cheeses are healthier for you than others, in particular, American. Now I consume a LOT of cheese! I admit that it comes from Great Britain Ireland, Spain, Italy and Greece, yet it mostly comes France, so this was interesting.  

Apparently, unlike most American dairies that raise their cows in confinement and on grain based diets (I even read on milk chocolate and stale gummy bears!), French diaries and those of GB and Ireland)generally raise their cows in pastures (one good side effect of all that rain!), which results in naturally high levels of CLA. Here in France, they have even banned growth hormones as well.  

Okay, so CLA? What is that? Apparently, CLA or "conjugated linoleic acid" is a newly discovered good fat that has shown signs in animal studies to be a potent cancer fighter. Seemingly very small amounts of the stuff has blocked ‘all three stages of cancer: 1) initiation, 2) promotion, and 3) metastasis’, where most anti-cancer agents block only one. While human CLA research is still pretty new, a few studies suggest that there are similar benefits in people and ‘a recent survey determined that women with the most CLA in their diets had a 60 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer’. How interesting is this?  

Since natural CLA is far better than that stuff that comes in pill form as it has no known negative side effects, that which comes from grass pastures and the higher the altitude the better apparently, is good stuff. The most abundant source of natural CLA is the meat and dairy products of grassfed animals. Apparently in some new studies, the kind of CLA found in butter and animal fat is the most potent cancer-fighter and milk products from 100 percent grass-fed cows are as much as seven times higher in cancer-fighting CLA than ordinary milk and far lower in cancer-promoting linoleic acid. (Cancer Letters 1997;116:121-130) And according to other surveys, CLA levels in French cheese ranged from 5.3 to 15.8 mg/g of fat versus American cheese from conventional dairies, which had only half this amount ranging from 2.9 to 7.1. Yahoo! So let’s go eat some more French cheese!

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