Smile and say “Yak cheese”: Unusual cheese packed with heart-healthy fats

Mmmmmm…cheese! Almost everyone loves to eat this tasty, chewy treat on pizza, hamburgers, salads, and even as a stand-alone snack. Most cheese is made from the milk of dairy cows, and like milk, is good for your health. It contains calcium for building strong bones and teeth as well as other healthy ingredients. All kinds of interesting cheeses exist from all over the world with different tastes, feels, and smells. They include Swiss, blue cheese, and cheddar, which is the most popular cheese eaten in the United States.



Now there’s a new cheese in town that’s bound to get people yakety-yakking. It’s called “yak cheese” and it’s made from the milk of a big, shaggy cow-like animal found in the mountains of Nepal, India, Mongolia, and a few other countries. The cheese only recently became available in the United States and is only sold in a few specialty stores right now.

Researchers have known for years that cheese contains certain fatty substances that seem to help fight heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Scientists in Nepal and Canada decided to measure levels of these so-called healthy fats in yak cheese and compare them to levels found in cheddar cheese. They found that yak cheese contains higher amounts of these healthy fats and may be better for your health than cheddar and other cheese types.

Please remember that too much fat is bad for your health, so you should never eat too much cheese or too much of any high-fat food. But if you’re ever lucky enough to try this new cheese, go for it! It will give you something tasty and healthy to yak about.

A full report on their research appeared in the March 12 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a journal for scientists.

Listen to the audio version of this story on ACS’ Bytesize Science, an educational, entertaining podcast for young listeners. Click here to listen to Bytesize Science in iTunes. No iTunes? No problem. Check out the latest episodes of Bytesize Science in your Web browser.

— Mark T. Sampson

*The research in this press release is from a copyrighted publication, and stories must credit the journal by name or the American Chemical Society.

News media may obtain a full text of this report (“Fatty Acid Composition of yak (Bos grunniens) Cheese Including Conjugated Linoleic Acid and trans-18:1 Fatty Acids”) in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by contacting Michael Bernstein.

Researcher contact information for news media use only and not for publication:

“Fatty Acid Composition of yak (Bos grunniens) Cheese Including Conjugated Linoleic Acid and trans-18:1 Fatty Acids”


Brian W. McBride, Ph.D.
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Phone: 519-824-4120, ext. 53695
Fax: 519-836-9873