July 23/London/Daily Mail -- Researchers studying the link between food and diseases found that cheese-eaters were 12% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who rarely enjoy the dairy product.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was one of the largest studies ever to examine the impact of eating habits on a variety of diseases, according to the Daily Mail.

Researchers examined 16,000 participants with type 2 diabetes and compared their healthy and eating habits with 12,400 others who did not have the disease.

A comparison of dairy consumption found that cheese did appear to protect against metabolic disease. Other dairy foods, with the possible exception of yogurt, did not appear to directly protect against the condition.

Researchers suggested that one reason for cheese’s impact on diabetes is that "not all saturated fatty acids have an equal effect on cardiovascular risk," which is similar to findings of other recent studies. These studies suggest certain acids produced only in cows’ stomachs may help protect heart disease

They also noted that that fermentation of cheese and yogurt could possibly trigger a reaction that protects against diabetes and heart problems.

In a report summarizing the study findings, researchers concluded that while their study did find the connection between cheese and a lowered diabetes risk, more studies should be conducted to further understand the role of cheese in chronic diseases. 

This is not the first time a dairy product has been connected to a reduced risk of diabetes. In November, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found a diet high in low-fat dairy products is associated with lower diabetes risk in postmenopausal women, particularly those who are obese.  A 12-year study released in 2005 reported that men who drank two to three cups of low-fat or nonfat milk each day were 20% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.