We haven’t discussed cheese before. Probably because it is dairy & we have labeled all dairy as “evil”. Last year this changed with the new dietary guidelines for fat. Fat Update, our post from last June, addresses these guidelines. The bottom line is that fat is a necessary, healthy part of your diet. This, for most people, includes cheese.
Take a look at the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Cheese is near the top. “Moderate portions daily or weekly”. A serving of cheese varies depending on the type of cheese. Generally it is 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese. Hard cheese, like cheddar would be the size & shape of four die.
I found the above chart from FoodandHealth.comunications It gives you a snapshot of the nutritional values of common cheeses. I think having individually packed string cheese on hand for a protein snack, 8 grams, is a good idea. They are portable too 🙂
The Health Benefits of Cheese: Berkeley Wellness : Bottom line: Cheese can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation—an ounce or two a day is reasonable, but watch out for the calories. Like all dairy foods, cheese provides calcium and protein, along with some vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, zinc, and other nutrients. A downside is that most cheeses are high in sodium (100 to 300 milligrams or more per ounce). But compare nutrition labels, since products vary a lot in sodium, calories, and calcium, depending on the type and serving size. Low-sodium versions are available (though less tasty). Strong and savory cheeses have more flavor so you can use less. A cheese slicer will allow you to cut very fine slices to make a little go a longer way.”
Cheese is like any other food item, you need to read the label! “Real”, or “natural cheese” is healthy. “Processed cheese” is not. Velveeta is an example of processed cheese. When I was growing up, my only contact with Velveeta cheese was when my grandfather bought it for fish bait; it was always in his tackle box. I had no idea, until I lived in Georgia, & Kentucky, that people ate it! 🙂 American cheese is another processed cheese. Go for “real” or “natural” cheese.
Another good article about Cheese is from Dr. Mercola’s site. Full-Fat Cheese Has Many Health Benefits, Including Weight Loss: “Cheese has long been demonized for its saturated fat content, but as the saturated fat myth has come under increasing scrutiny, this food may soon experience a revival as well. Note that in this article he talks about sugar, & trans-fats being the culprit, not saturated fat.
Cheese is like fine wine, fine chocolates or gourmet coffee! You enjoy it in moderation. A pizza place near us serves macaroni & cheese as the topping for one of their pizzas. We tried it. Heart attack waiting to happen! Never again!
Cheese.com is an awesome site. It lists 1,750 different kinds of cheese from 74 countries! You can look up cheese by name, type, country, milk, texture & color! My all-time favorite is Gorgonzola: “Gorgonzola is one of the world’s oldest blue-veined cheeses. The Cheese is mainly produced in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, Gorgonzola. Unskimmed cow’s milk is used while preparing the cheese. Generally it takes three to four months to attain full ripeness.” I love it no matter how it is served! The strong flavor means I use only a small amount….hmmm 🙂
This site also has a list of Vegetarian Cheese. Cheese can be made with or without animal rennet. It is used to curdle the milk to form cheese. You can also find cheese that is made from plant based rennet. Read the labels! Some bacteria that is used for vegetarian cheese is GMO. Choosing organic vegetarian cheese will eliminate that problem. I thought the process to make soft cheese also made it a vegetarian choice. Not true. This site really helps.
What about Vegans? One Green Planet has recipes for you to make your own cheese: These 25 Vegan Cheeses Will Make You Quit Dairy Forever as does 12 Vegan Cheese Recipes That Will Change Your Life . They both have wonderful recipes but they are time consuming. The Easy Garlic & Herb Vegan Cheese takes 25 hours!
One Green Planet also has an article about vegan cheese brands: Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands Vegan cheese has evolved into a much better product over the years. They melt well & they are good sliced on sandwiches. They are processed. Treeline Nut Cheese intrigues me. Great ingredients & not really processed like American Cheese 🙂 Here is an example: Classic Aged Nut Cheese: Tangy, slightly smoky, firm yet creamy. Slice it, grate it over pasta or stir it into risotto. Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, hickory smoked salt, vegan lactic acid, L. Acidophilus. I am looking forward to trying it. This line of cheese is available at Whole Foods & Ralph’s. You can find a store near you on the website. Let me know what you think of it.
Each person has a different relationship with food. I love cheese, so I don’t keep it in the house. We have it on special occasions; when we have guests or when we go out to a dinner. I will get joint pain from eating a lot of cheese during the week. I also notice that some cheese causes me to have puffy eyes & congestion. Mozzarella, Parmesan, & Swiss don’t affect me. I also get a headache from yellow cheese. It is the coloring that causes it. When I buy cheddar, I only use white cheddar. Note your reaction to all foods, but especially to dairy products. Another reason to keep a food diary 🙂
Take away the “evil” label & enjoy a serving of cheese & fruit for lunch, a pick-me-up or for desert. Until next week…Mary 🙂
- The Health Benefits of Cheese: Berkeley Wellness
- Full-Fat Cheese Has Many Health Benefits, Including Weight Loss
- High-fat cheese can be part of a healthy diet
- All About Cheese: Cheese Matters.com.au
- These 25 Vegan Cheeses Will Make You Quit Dairy Forever
- 12 Vegan Cheese Recipes That Will Change Your Life
- Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands
- Cheese, a Happy Accident: WebMD
- New World Chapter of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers
- Oldway’s Cheese Coalition
- Effects of Dairy Products Consumption on Health: Benefits and Beliefs—A Commentary from the Belgian Bone Club and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases: NCBI