Podcast Transcript: Here’s something that might cow Wisconsin farmers into abandoning their prize Holsteins. Turns out cheese from yaks may be heart healthy. Researchers writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry report that the shaggy beasts from Tibet and Nepal produce cheese that is high in polyunsaturated fat. It also has four times more conjugated linoleic acid than dairy cattle cheese. Linoleic acid may help ward off heart disease.
The secret seems to be that the yaks graze on grass. While cows in the US and Canada mostly eat grain. Brian McBride, of the University of Guelph in Ontario, says that yak cheese tastes like a medium cheddar with a smooth, uniform texture. Yak cheese is made and sold in Nepal and is in high demand—it could be part of the fuel that helps power Nepalese sherpas up Mt. Everest—but you can find it some gourmet food stores in the US. It may be a while before these beasts from the roof of Asia populate places like America’s Dairyland, but the idea could have farmers yakking.
—Steve Mirsky, with reporting from Harvey Black