Cheese is a wonderful source of protein and calcium, but it can also be heavy in sodium and saturated fats. Should we eat more or less cheese? Over the past 50 years, cheese has gained popularity in the United States (U.S.). According to statistics, from 1970 to 2009, consumption tripled.
The variety of cheeses offered and the number of specialized cheese makers in the U.S. has increased recently. Some people refrain from consuming dairy cheese because they have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, as part of a vegan diet, or because they are trying to lose weight.
A variety of health advantages are provided by cheese, some of which are unexpected. Depending on the person, the kind and quantity of cheese consumed, this decision may or may not be healthy.
Burgers, pizza, Mexican food, salads, and sandwiches are all commonly served with cheese. It can be an appetizer or a snack by itself, and it can be included in various meals, including soups, cakes, and sauces. There are countless types of cheese, with flavors ranging from mild to aged and fat contents varying from low to high. Sheep, goats, and other animal milk can be used to make it.
Cheese Nutrition Facts
What is Exactly Cheese?
Cheese is a dairy product that is available in countless flavors and textures. It is made by adding acid or bacteria to milk from different farm animals, aging the milk, or processing its solid components. Cheese’s nutritional value and flavor might vary depending on the type of milk used during production.
Some individuals worry that cheese has a lot of calories, sodium, and fat. However, cheese is a fantastic source of calcium, protein, and several other nutrients. Consuming cheese may help with weight loss, heart health, and osteoporosis prevention. Nevertheless, certain cheeses are better for you than others.
Fast Facts on Cheese
- There are thousands of types of cheese, and “Cheese-flavored” food is not considered one of them.
- Many pieces of cheese are high in sodium and fat, but the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages.
- Natural, low-fat, low-sodium cheese can make a healthful addition to most diets.
- Anyone with a lactose allergy should not eat any cheese, but some types may be suitable for those with lactose intolerance.
How Many Types of Cheese?
Burgers, pizza, Mexican food, salads, and sandwiches are all commonly served with cheese. It can be an appetizer or a snack by itself, and it can be included in various meals, including soups, cakes, and sauces.
There are countless types of cheese, with flavors ranging from mild to aged and fat contents varying from low to high. Sheep, goats, and other animal milk can be used to make it.
- Whole-milk cheese contains between 6 and 10 grams (g) of fat per 1-ounce (28 g) serving. Of this, 4 g to 6 g is saturated fat.
- Low-fat or reduced-fat cheese is made with 2 percent milk. Non-fat cheese is made with 0 percent or skims milk.
- Fresh cheeses are cheeses that have not been aged or matured. They usually have a higher moisture content, softer texture, and milder taste than aged cheeses. Examples include ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and mascarpone.
- Aged or mature cheeses are firmer in texture and tend to be aged for six months or longer. The longer the aging process, the more concentrated or sharp the flavor. Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, and Gruyère are examples of aged cheeses.
- Processed cheese, such as cheese spread, American cheese, “cheese food,” and “cheese flavored” products, cannot be categorized as cheese, and the label must reflect this. These are shelf-stable products containing added ingredients such as flavor enhancers and emulsifiers.
- Non-dairy cheeses, such as soy cheese and Daiya, are suitable for people who do not consume dairy products but are highly processed.
What are the Health Benefits of Cheese?
Here’s why your body might love this delectable dairy treat:
It’s Full of Nutrients
We’ve already established that cheese contains calcium, protein, and fat, and dairy is also rich in B vitamins, vitamin D, and anti-inflammatory compounds that strengthen the immune system. However, eating various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and your favorite cheese with them is the best way to get all the nutrients.
It Supports Bone Health
Your bones are kept strong by calcium. Did you realize that around 30% of Americans don’t consume enough of it? To the rescue, cheese! There is calcium in all cheese; however, if you want to maximize the nutritional value of each bite, munch on Parmesan and Swiss cheese.
It could Improve Muscle Strength and Recovery
Cheese and other dairy products provide your body with protein-rich in amino acids. From muscle healing to damage repair, your body uses protein.
It’s Good for your Teeth
At your next gathering, consider serving cubed cheese rather than cupcakes: According to a 2013 study, your chances of having plaque on your teeth decrease the more dairy you consume. Protein and calcium are also excellent for your smile, and calcium may even help prevent cavities, according to a 2015 study. Swiss cheese is a great source of calcium, protein, and little tooth-decaying sugar.
It Might Contain Gut-Supporting Probiotics
Since probiotics are present in many fermented foods, aged cheese is your best bet for a substantial serving. The rationale behind increasing your intake is that healthier digestion may result from adding more beneficial bacteria to your stomach. However, be aware that taking too many probiotics is possible. Although they are rare, side effects can include gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc.
Is Cheese Bad for you?
You can make better decisions if you know the advantages and dangers of cheese consumption. If the cheese is tainted or has specific dietary requirements or medical issues, it could negatively affect you.
- Listeria can occasionally infect soft and blue-veined cheeses, especially if produced using unpasteurized or “raw” milk. Foods contaminated with listeria can make you sick.
- A high-calorie food is a cheese. You consume roughly 100 calories per ounce of cheese, depending on the type. Saturated fat, in particular, is abundant in cheese. Not all specialists, although some do, suggest reducing your intake of saturated fat. Additionally, it frequently contains a lot of sodium, which may be problematic for those with high blood pressure.
- Cheese includes lactose, a sugar that lactose-intolerant people cannot digest because their bodies lack the necessary enzyme. In these circumstances, consuming lactose may cause digestive issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
- Cheese and other dairy-containing foods are off-limits to people with milk allergies. A milk allergy is an immunological response by your body to one or more milk proteins, such as casein. One of the primary proteins in milk is casein, which is also a component of some cheeses made from soy.
How Much Cheese can you Eat a Day?
The high quantities of saturated fats in cheese, like those in other dairy products, have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. However, some recent research has shown that elevated cholesterol and other cardiac issues are not caused by dietary cholesterol and saturated fats but rather by trans fats and added sugar.
According to studies, people who regularly consumed cheese had a lower risk of heart disease than those who either never or occasionally did.
The beneficial elements that cheese offers counteract the harmful effects of the saturated fat it contains. Since cheese contains a lot of probiotics, it reduces inflammation, which is linked to many disorders.
Additionally, it includes CLA, which may help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL (the good cholesterol) (bad cholesterol). A small amount of cheese with your soup is not excessive, but you shouldn’t consume more than 40 grams of cheese every day.
How to Store Cheese?
It’s time to pack away the leftover finger foods from your party, including several of the cubes from your cheese board. The more you know about properly storing cheese in the refrigerator, the longer it will last and taste better.
We will explain how to package and preserve several cheese varieties properly. Whether you’re eating Gouda, lactose-free cheese, or the healthiest cheese in your refrigerator, treat your cheese with the respect it deserves.
- A resealable plastic bag will do the job, but it’s not the ideal storage solution for your cheese. The best way to wrap leftovers depends on the particular type; see the list of kinds of cheeses below for specifics.
- Store all types of cheese in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper, where the temperature is cold and stable.
- Use a fresh piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to rewrap cheese after each use.
- The length of time you can keep cheese differs by variety; generally, the harder the cheese, the longer it will last.
- Hard, aged cheeses (Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged Gouda): First, wrap in wax or parchment paper, then add a layer of plastic wrap.
- Blue cheeses (Gorgonzola, Roquefort): Wrap in plastic wrap.
- Semi-hard and hard cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere): Wrap in plastic wrap.
- Soft, semi-soft, and stinky cheeses (goat, Camembert, Brie, Limburger): Place in a resealable plastic container.
- Fresh cheeses in water (mozzarella or Feta): Leave the cheese in the original packaging, changing the water every couple of days.
Cheese can be a valuable source of calcium for people who do not have an allergy or intolerance, but it must be carefully chosen and consumed in moderation.
Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium and protein, and some even have extra health advantages. Some cheeses may have nutrients that support digestive health, help you lose weight, strengthen your bones, and lower your risk of heart disease. It’s still important to monitor your consumption because some cheeses can be heavy in fat or sodium.
In general, cheese can be a wholesome complement to a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
Although cheese has several health advantages, those at risk for cardiovascular disease or weight gain should pick low-sodium, low-fat varieties.
Choose natural yet low-fat dairy products instead than processed cheeses and “cheese foods,” which are most likely to contain extra fat and salt.