Yak Cheese Is a Miracle


Four times more healthy fats

Originally Posted By Stefan Anitei, March 18, 2008; Edited by Nicole Porter-Salvato                

Now, we have found the secret of the strong health of the Tibetan and Himalayan populations. It is in that woolly beast called yak. More precisely in its cheese.

Cheese lovers have got a new target item, as a team of researchers from Nepal (a Himalayan state) and Canada has found that yak cheese has higher amounts of heart-healthy fats than cheese from dairy cattle, being much healthier. The base diet of people from Tibet and Himalaya is butter tea, made of tea leaves, yak butter and salt, combined with tsampa (local barley or wheat bread). The new research has been published in ACS' "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry."

Many previous researches had revealed that certain types of dairy-derived fatty acids, especially conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), could help fight heart disease, cancer and diabetes, but no investigation had been previously made on the chemical composition of yak cheese.

The team led by Brian W. McBride compared the fatty acid percentages of Nepalese yak cheese with that of Canadian cheddar cheese. The yak cheese contained four times more CLAs than the dairy cow cheese. Also, the yak cheese was significantly richer in polyunsaturated fatty acids, considered healthier for the heart.

Yak cheese has only recently entered on the American market and it can be purchased in select gourmet food stores. The yak is a long-haired type of cattle, bred from Himalaya (Nepal) to Tibet, Mongolia and surrounding regions. This is an animal perfectly adapted to high altitudes and cold. The yak is an excellent labor and burden animal. That's why, in lower altitudes, people prefer a hybrid yak-cattle called zopkio, more docile and better standing with those conditions.

Yak meat is slightly tough. In Chinese traditional medicine, sliced and pickled ox or yak penis, which has bland and rubbery texture, is considered a general energizer. In Tibetan monasteries, lamps on the shrines function on yak fat. The spun yak wool is extremely warm. The braided wool is used for getting solid ropes. In Tibet and high Himalaya, the local common clothing, called chuba, is made by men who braid it from yak wool. The yak wool is also used for making mantles and blankets.

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Nicole Porter-Salvato, PhD is one of the owners of Prairie Sky Sanctuary and Ranch, a horse and Tibetan yak ranch in South Western Wisconsin. She’s trained in epigenetics and epidemiology, an avid IYAK supporter, BOD member and yak lover. She and her husband, Dan, love to talk about yak and are always available to answer questions or provide resources.

Nicole Porter-Salvato

Prairie Sky Sanctuary

HealthStefan AniteiDairy, Cheese