Cheese has a reputation for being bad for you – but research suggests eating it every day could in fact reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
Consuming a matchbox size amount – one-and-a-half ounces or 40g – daily can slash the risk by 14 per cent, reports The Daily Mail.
This same portion size could lower the risk of a stroke by 10 per cent, found the Chinese study.
Researchers are keen to understand the so-called 'French paradox', a perplexing phenomenon in which French people, who tend to have diets rich in cholesterol and saturated fat, somehow have low rates of heart disease.
Soochow University has now found that cheese raises levels of so-called 'good' cholesterol while reducing levels of 'bad' cholesterol.
Although cheese contains high levels of saturated fat – linked to bad heart health – the calcium in the food means less of that fat is absorbed by the body, it was discovered.
Additionally, it also contains an acid that can help prevent clogging of the arteries.
Earlier this year, a British-led study also found that almost one million people saw no increased risk with regular cheese consumption.
The Chinese research was produced through an analysis of 15 studies on cheese and heart risk.
Writing in the European Journal of Nutrition, the authors of the latest study said: "Cheese contains saturated fatty acids but also has potentially beneficial nutrients.
"It's unclear how long-term consumption affects the development of cardiovascular disease."
A team of international researchers lead by Reading University revealed in April that eating dairy does not raise the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Even full-fat cheese, milk and yoghurt do not increase the danger, the review of 29 studies found.
The team's findings did not go as far as the Chinese study by saying it boosts heart health but said dairy only has a 'neutral' impact.
Ian Givens, professor of food chain nutrition at Reading University, said: "There's quite a widespread but mistaken belief among the public that dairy products in general can be bad for you, but that's a misconception.
"While it is a widely held belief, our research shows that that's wrong."
Dr Givens has said public health warnings have seen people shun full-fat versions of cheese, milk or yoghurt, in the mistaken belief that they could harm their health.
Young people, especially young women, risk bone damage and osteoporosis by drinking too little milk, which can also deprive them of calcium.
The British Heart Foundation says cheese is a good source of vital calcium, but warns a 30g portion can account for seven per cent of overall recommended calorie intake in a day.
The charity therefore recommends heart disease patients should get the nutrients they might find in cheese from other products like milk and yoghurt, to cut down on calories.