Cheese has received a lot of bad press for being high in fat and calories. But the truth is, cheese is a great source of protein, calcium and magnesium, along with other important nutrients. The trick is to know which cheese to put on your list. In this article, we’ll talk about the health benefits of cheese and which varieties are the healthiest.
Health Benefits of Cheese
Not counting cheese in a can, all cheeses will provide benefits to your health. From cavity prevention to cancer prevention, cheese packs a nutritional wallop.
- Nutrient Dense. Cheese contains many essential nutrients in high concentrations. Calcium, vitamin A, phosphorus, riboflavin, and many others. It is also considered a quality protein source.
- Dental Health. Because of the high amount of calcium and low amount of lactose, cheese helps build strong teeth. The low lactose level prevents the harm to teeth that other foods can cause.
- Preventing Cancer. Substances known as CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and Sphingolipids are proven to be useful in cancer prevention. Both are contained in cheese.
- Strong Bones. A high amount of calcium combined with vitamin B makes cheese a good source for strengthening bones in children, the elderly, during pregnancy and when lactating.
- Increased Bone Density. Osteoporosis is caused by a lack of calcium. Cheese is a great way to get the protein and calcium needed to combat this disease.
The Healthiest Cheeses
To get all the wonderful health benefits of cheese without adding a lot of fat and calories, look at our top picks for the healthiest cheeses.
- Feta Cheese. Naturally low in calories and fat, feta carries four grams of protein and about 70 calories in a one ounce serving. Use it in salads or try it with sweet fruits. Look for Greek feta to avoid lactose. For pregnant women, use pasteurized feta to avoid Listeria.
- String Cheese. Made from skin mozzarella, it’s a high protein and low calorie snack in a portable form. Be sure you buy a variety that’s 100% mozzarella.
- Parmesan Cheese. Parmesan has only 110 calories per ounce, with a rich flavor. Shaved or grated, it can be tossed in a salad, sprinkled on pasta or eaten sliced with apples. Parmesan can be high in sodium, so be sure to read the label.
- Swiss Cheese. Swiss cheese has more phosphorus than other soft cheeses, which is a key element for bone health. It can be eaten sliced, melted into dishes or as a snack with fruit.
- Cottage Cheese. There’s a reason dieters are so fond of cottage cheese. For 20 calories, you get three grams of protein and a healthy dose of calcium. It can be eaten with fruit, veggies, in recipes or by itself.
- Ricotta Cheese. The smooth texture and sweet taste of ricotta make it a very versatile cheese. Among dairy products, it places second for most calcium and it’s a low sodium food. It also contains high protein and selenium, an important antioxidant. You can use it in a variety of dishes and desserts.