While we're used to hearing that cheese should be a treat rather than an everyday food, one recent study has suggested that we could be incorporating it into our diets on the reg.
Of course, the gooey stuff contains an extremely high level of saturated fat – linked to high cholesterol and a heightened risk of heart disease – but it also holds a number of nutrients that are beneficial for health, like calcium, protein and probiotics.
And according to a study shared by the European Journal of Nutrition, these advantages could well outweigh the negative effects in the long term, with the possibility that cheese could even lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
To carry out the investigation, researchers from China and the Netherlands examined 15 different US and European observational studies based on long-term cheese consumption (aka life).
Analysing the results of each, they discovered that those who ate a small quantity of cheese every day saw their risk of developing heart disease lower by around 14% and were around 10% less likely to have a stroke than those who never ate cheese.
In addition to all the artery-clogging stuff, cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid that may increase the amount of 'good' HDL cholesterol in our bodies and decrease 'bad' LDL levels.
But don't use that as an excuse to eat three wheels of camembert for lunch, because the study also found that there was a kind of U-shaped relationship – as opposed to a linear one – between cheese and health.
That means that while those eating a small amount of cheese were found to be less at risk of heart disease and strokes, those eating a lot of cheese were judged more at risk of both than anyone else.
According to the experts, the sweet spot is around 40 grams of cheese per day, which is a matchbox-sized cube. The study didn't look into different types of cheese, however, and, of course, you shouldn't take the results as instructions to go wild.
On the upside, though, it looks like indulging in a bit of cheese and wine over the festive season is perfectly acceptable and that's all the Christmas news we needed to hear.