Food & Beverage Perspectives
cheese_dairy_brain health

Milk, Cheese Do a Brain Good

Neurodegeneration and mental aging have been linked to reduced amount of antioxidants like glutathione. Trouble is, no dietary factor has been linked to a higher glutathione concentration … until now. Dairy intake may be positively associated with cerebral glutathione.

Neurodegeneration and mental aging have been linked to reduced amount of antioxidants like glutathione. Trouble is, no dietary factor has been linked to a higher glutathione concentration … until now. Dairy intake may be positively associated with cerebral glutathione.

In an observational study, researchers measured cerebral glutathione concentrations in 60 older healthy subjects whose routine dairy intakes varied (Am J Clin Nutr. 2015; 101(2):287-93). Glutathione concentrations in the frontal, parietal and frontoparietal regions were correlated with average daily dairy servings. In particular, glutathione concentrations in all three regions were positively correlated with milk servings. Plus, those in the parietal region were also correlated with cheese servings (Yum!) and calcium intake. Dairy intake was related to sex, fat-free mass and daily intakes of energy, protein and carbohydrates. However, when these factors were controlled through a partial correlation, correlations between glutathione concentrations and dairy and milk servings remained significant.

The researchers concluded higher cerebral glutathione concentrations are associated with greater dairy consumption in older adults. One possible explanation for this association is that dairy foods may serve as a good source of substrates for glutathione synthesis in the human brain.

With all the buzz around clean-label beverages, knowing milk supports not only clean label but brain health is just one added benefit (not to mention the hot new flavor trending in dairy products). Furthermore, the global cheese market is slated to hit $118 billion by 2019, so the benefits of cheeses, beyond their scrumptious flavors, will not be hard to sell. Cheese is also a hot ingredient in snacks (Check out this recipe for cheesy crunchers). All in all, more research to support the benefits of dairy.

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