What Are the 'Healthiest' Types of Cheese?
Cheese is a notoriously desirable food. It has a creamy texture, it is filling and melting like a dream. In addition, the cheese contains Casomorphin, a chemical compound of the casein protein that provides a calming and slightly euphoric effect.
Because it contains saturated fats, which can be dangerous to your heart health, cheese gets a bad rap as an unhealthy food in general. However, this is not exactly the case, and cheese can be part of a healthy diet.
What Makes Cheese a "Healthy" Choice?
Since saturated fat is the main component of cheese, many consider it unhealthy. However, the healthiest types of cheeses are those that offer enough nutrients to make up for the saturated fat that cheese inherently contains.
It is important to note that saturated fats are not completely "bad." In addition to considering it generally acceptable for a small percentage of fat in our diets to come from saturated fat, in recent years science has discovered that saturated fat is not as problematic as previously believed.
While too much saturated fat in the diet can cause health problems, consuming a moderate amount probably won't cause heart disease as you thought. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults limit saturation to 5% -6% of total daily calories. For people on a 2,000 calorie diet, that's about 13 grams.
Knowing this, our options for the healthiest types of cheeses are those that still contain this nutrient, like all cheeses. The main qualifier is that these cheeses also have enough other nutritional components to make them overall healthy foods.
Let's look at some of the healthiest options you can make when it comes to selecting cheese for your next meal or snack.
Most cheeses undergo some fermentation, but not all contain probiotics. Probiotics are small, beneficial organisms that live in our intestines. They are vital to our gut health and are best consumed from a variety of sources. This helps you get the most diverse population of good bacteria possible to help fight other harmful gut bacteria, such as yeast infection.
The following types of cheese are rich in probiotics:
A soft cheese originally from the Netherlands, gouda offers several types of probiotics. This includes Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, which has been used to prevent postpartum depression and anxiety.
Gouda is available in several different forms, including smoked and aged.
In addition to the important probiotics, cheddar cheese contains 20% of the RDA of calcium per serving.
It is one of the most popular cheeses in America and is used in everything from grilled cheese to hamburgers. Cheddar cheese has a variety for almost all cheese lovers, from light to ultra strong. The softer the cheddar cheese, the easier it will be to melt.
Traditionally known as a diet food, cottage cheese provides important vitamins like B12, as well as billions of probiotics per serving.
While many don't appreciate the pure flavor, it makes a great base for recipes like this cottage cheese waffle. Cottage cheese has a spicy flavor and is available in small and large curd versions.
Traditionally made in Greece from sheep and goat milk, this crumbly cheese has grown exponentially in popularity in recent years. The probiotics it contains are considered anti-inflammatory.
Because it is made from sheep's and goat's milk, feta cheese has higher amounts of certain nutrients, such as phosphorous, than cow's cheese.
High-fat protein cheeses
Most cheeses are high in protein, almost eleven grams per ounce. (Although this is a general rule of thumb, there are exceptions, such as cream cheese, which weighs less than two grams per ounce.)
However, many cheeses are also high in fat, containing up to 10 grams per ounce, of which five or six can be saturated.
Some cheeses offer more protein with less fat, making them healthier options when looking for foods that have a better balance of macronutrients. These are some of the best options for high-protein but low-fat cheeses.
With more than eight grams of protein per ounce, Parmesan 5 has just seven grams of fat. This cheese is a key component of Italian food and is often grated in main dishes such as pasta.
Parmesan cheese is available fresh in dairy cartons and also freeze-dried, making it stable in supermarket aisles. When bought fresh, it can be crumbled or scraped, as well as grated.
Romano looks a bit like Parmesan, but has a stronger, saltier flavor. While Parmesan is made with cow's milk, Roman is made with sheep's milk, which explains its agricultural quality.
Romano has slightly more protein than Parmesan, at 9 grams per ounce, and the same amount of fat, 7.6 grams.6 Romano can be used in place of Parmesan as a topping for Italian dishes whenever you like.
Mozzarella comes in a variety of forms, including fat and fat-free, as well as more or less moisture.
The grated version commonly sold in pouches is a lower moisture cheese, while fresh mozzarellas sold after being rolled into balls and stored in water, such as burrata, have a higher moisture content.
One type of low-fat mozzarella, generally sold with less moisture, has nearly twice the protein as fat, with seven grams of protein per ounce and 4.5 grams of fat.
Jarlsberg, a type of Swiss cheese, resembles standard Swiss cheese because it has a light color and medium-sized holes.
Jarlsberg has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and is used in dishes such as cheese soufflé. It's about the same in protein and fat, with eight grams of fat and eight grams of protein per ounce.
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