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Eating Cheese: 9 Health Benefits, 4 Risks, 4 Types, and 8 Nutrition Facts

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Cheese, the famous dairy product, that is a hot favorite among various people all over the world is actually made from the fatty and protein-rich milk of sheep, cows, goats, and buffaloes. Casein, a kind of protein present in the milk is made to coagulate and as a result, cheese is formed. 

Sold in various flavors, shapes, and textures, cheese is used to prepare various food items like burgers, pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, casseroles, salads, etc. It imparts a different flavor, smell, and color to various dishes. There are many Health Benefits to Eating Cheese and so it’s good to eat. However, some people, with Old-school thinking, doubt that eating cheese may confront them with various health risks because of the unsaturated fat present in it. 

Eating Cheese 9 Health Benefits, 4 Risks, 4 Types, and 8 Nutrition Facts
Eating Cheese 9 Health Benefits, 4 Risks, 4 Types, and 8 Nutrition Facts

So, what’s the truth? Is cheese really good or bad? Newer research on cheese suggests that eating cheese is healthy. However, you need to eat it in moderation thinking about the potential health risks its large consumption can put you. Feeling curious to know more about cheese? Then, Say Cheese!…and keep reading.  

Introduction

Cheese is a milk product that is produced by acidifying milk and adding casein-coagulating enzymes (rennet/other bacterial enzymes) into it. After adding the enzymes, the milk turns into curd. The cheese manufacturers then separate the solid curds from the liquid derivatives. The curds are then pressed to give new shapes in the form of cheese. 

The type of cheese depends upon the milk’s origin, it’s processing including pasteurization, its butterfat quantity, the types of bacteria or mold used, etc. The different flavors of the cheese come from the different herbs, spices, etc that are used to flavor it. Different cheese has different flavors. Some cheese manufacturers also use taste-enhancing substances (such as black pepper, cranberries, chives, garlic, etc) on cheese so that they taste better. 

Cheese also comes in different colors including yellow and red colors. Adding annatto to the cheeses gives them red, yellow, and other colors. Some cheeses are produced by acidifying them to higher degrees whereas others are less acidified using milk sugars to lactic acid-converting bacteria. 

Cheese is a highly portable and valued food item that is nutrient-rich and doesn’t spoil easily, that’s why there are many health benefits to eating cheese. It’s enriched with protein, phosphorus, calcium & fat. Hard cheese (for example, Parmesan cheese) has a longer shelf life than soft cheese (for example, Brie cheese or cheeses made with goat’s milk). Today, various kinds of cheese (especially block-shaped cheeses) are stored in vacuum packaging and distributed in plastic bags (with gas flushing) made of carbon dioxide gas and nitrogen gas. 

A cheesemonger (cheese specialist) usually has various expertise in cheeses and hence buys the cheeses after selecting them and stores and ripens them. They do it before eating them or selling them to the customers. Plant-based cheeses comprise less carbon footprint than those that are animal-based. 

Also Read: 14 Amazing Benefits Of Eating Healthy Foods

9 Health Benefits Of Eating Cheese

Here are the 9 Health Benefits of eating Cheese:

9 Health Benefits Of Eating Cheese
9 Health Benefits Of Eating Cheese

1. Cheese May Be Beneficial For Your Cardiovascular Health

Avoiding cheese thinking that it may add cholesterol to your body and risk your health? But, do you know, research says just the opposite of it? Research conducted in 2018 on fermented milk derivatives like cheese, yogurt, etc has concluded that they are very much favorable for your heart. 

This is because, a specific kind of fatty acid, named heptadecanoic acid is present in these dairy products that lower the risk of heart ailments, strokes, and heart disease-related deaths. Also, any dairy product like whole-fat cheese that comprises full fat in them is anti-inflammatory and full of nutrition. So, it is seen that eating whole-fat cheese lowers the chance of heart-related disorders. 

2. Cheese Improves Your Gut Health By Acting Like A Probiotic

Like yogurt, there are some cheeses (like Swiss Cheese, Gouda cheese, Cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese, Edam cheese, etc) that produce short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids absorb calcium, iron, magnesium, etc from your gut and thus maintain the balance between the acid and base of your gut. 

As a result, your gut’s all-around structure, process, and healthfulness get intact. Always eat the cheese before cooking, especially when it is fresh otherwise the probiotic properties of the cheese may erode due to heat. Just put some slices of cheese on your sandwich, burger, salad, etc, and munch them on for healthy nourishment.   

3. Cheese May Help You Become Less Obese:

Any cheese that has high-fat content in them (for example, Cheddar cheese, Brie cheese, etc) comprises CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), though in small quantities. CLA, being a healthful fat, may curb your obesity, lessen your inflammation, and saves you from heart ailments. The modern Cheddar cheese made from the milk of a hundred percent herbivorous animals comprises twice the quantity of CLA as compared to the traditional Cheddar cheese. However, the nutritional benefits of modern Cheddar cheese may be low as compared to traditional Cheddar cheese. 

4. Cheese Is A Healthy Choice Full Of Nutrients

Cheese is a healthy food. It is not only flooded with calcium, protein, fat, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Riboflavin, and phosphorus but also is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (great for the heart as well as the metabolic health of a person). Besides, Omega-6 fatty acids are also present in cheese in a balanced way. 

5. Cheese Boosts Your Muscle Mass

Wanna be strong and fit and lead your life in a healthy way? Then, trust it on cheese, particularly ricotta cheese). The research found that consuming 1 cup of this cheese per day not only makes you stronger by improving your muscle mass but also promotes your balance in a healthy way. However, for getting the result, you have to continue the diet for about twelve weeks. According to the researchers, the credit for it goes to casein (the milk proteins) and whey, which are present in milk and hence in the cheese made from it.  

6. Cheese May Assist In Lessening Your Body’s Cholesterol

Cheese, the fermented dairy product, comprises calcium and Vitamin K2, which are likely to transport fat and cholesterol through one’s gut. As a result, very less cholesterol or calories are absorbed in your body. This is not applicable in the case of butter. So, cheese is a healthy choice as compared to butter. 

7. Cheese Makes Your Bones Stronger  And Perhaps Lowers Your Blood Pressure

Cheese comprises calcium and calcium is known to strengthen one’s bones and teeth. Apart from that, it is also known to lower one’s blood pressure and prevent his/her death. 

8. Cheese Saves You From Diabetes

Cheese contains shorter-chain saturated fats, whey protein (strengthens insulin sensitivity), and calcium (insulin secretion stimulator) in it. So, consuming cheese regularly in a small/moderate amount (2 cups to 3/4 cups) keeps type 2 diabetes away from you.

9. Cheese Boosts Your Oral Health

Cheese comprises probiotics. These probiotics in cheese impact your saliva’s bacteria types and other immunological combinations in a positive way. Also, cheese consumption saves your mouth from various inconveniences such as tooth decay, mouth sores, painful swallowing or chewing, gum infection, etc, and also reduces its chance of being dry. This is done by boosting the saliva ebb in your mouth. Also, the calcium in cheese makes your teeth stronger by saving them from cavities. So, cheese is an active food product beneficial for maintaining good oral health. 

Potential Health Risks Associated With Cheese

As there’s a saying, “anything in moderation is fine”, it is also applicable to cheese. Cheese is healthy to eat but it must be eaten with restraint otherwise you may face many of its health risks. With the knowledge of these risks, you will be able to make choices for cheese more consciously. Sometimes contaminated cheese spurs unpleasant consequences. Also, people with improper health conditions and those who have to go for dietary changes must definitely exclude cheese from their diet. 

Potential Health Risks Associated With Cheese
Potential Health Risks Associated With Cheese

1. Listeria Contamination

Unpasteurized/raw milk soft cheese (for example,  blue-veined cheese) sometimes gets contaminated with listeria, which results in illnesses. Cheeses prone to Listeria contamination are mainly Brie, feta, Camembert, blue-veined cheese, queso fresco, and queso panela. Besides, Queso Blanco cheese is also susceptible to contamination. Any soft cheese that doesn’t comprises pasteurized milk in it must be avoided especially by immunodeficient people, aged adults, pregnant women, and kids/children as they are susceptible to Listeria contamination by eating those cheese. 

2. Cheese Despite Being A High-calorie Diet Has Zero Fiber Content

Cheese though loaded with a lot of calories & saturated fats, is low in fiber content. So, it is thought to make you fat and is not a completely healthful food to eat. Contacting a renowned dietitian will help you decide the to intake cheese or not. He/she will suggest the consumption of cheese depending upon the overall cholesterol and fat content of your body. 

3. Cheese May Not Suit People Who Are Lactose Intolerant Or Have Other Kinds Of Allergies

Every cheese comprises a sugar called lactose that lactose intolerant people find hard to digest. This is because every normal people comprises an enzyme in their stomach that breaks down their foods into smaller parts, which is not present in lactose intolerant people. So, people with lactose intolerance frequently face issues of gas, diarrhea, bloated stomach, etc. 

Thanks to some cheeses like Parmesan, Cheddar, Swiss, etc (containing a lower level of lactose intolerance) that lactose intolerant people can also consume. Also, some lactase pills and supplements taken on the advice of your doctor will relieve you from the problem temporarily. 

Some people have a milk allergy or other kinds of allergies and so they couldn’t consume dairy products including cheese. 

4. Cheese Has High Sodium Content

Every cheese comprises a certain quantity of sodium in it. Sodium is known for minimizing bacterial/fungal growth in the food and thus protects your food from spoilage! However, the high sodium present in cheeses risks your heart health and unfavorably affects your overall health in a negative way. 

Types Of Cheese

Cheeses are of many types and Here are 4 Types of Cheese

1. Aged Cheese

Aged cheese is strong-flavored cheese that has a firm texture and high salt content. Some examples of aged cheese are Cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, etc. They take time for maturation and so they are conserved for an extended time before ultimately trading them in the market.  

2. Reduced-Fat Cheese

These types of cheeses are less in fat and hence are appropriate for those who are diet-conscious people. Each serving of this cheese comprises nearly 3 gm of fat and is labeled as ” low-fat” in the packaging. This type of cheese is 25 % low in fat than the regular cheese sold in the market. 

3. Fresh Cheese

Fresh cheeses are cheeses that are highly moisturized and soft textured and are of ready-to-eat type. This type of cheese doesn’t require any maturation time before selling. Examples of some of these cheeses are ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, etc. 

4. Whole Milk Cheese

Prepared from unskimmed and regular milk, these types of cheeses comprise high saturated fat in them. People with good heart health can eat these cheeses in moderation. However, those who are suffering from any heart ailment or have high cholesterol in their bodies are always advised to restrain their consumption of this cheese. 

Apart from these cheeses, there are some food products that are named cheese but are not completely cheese. Processed cheese (for example, American cheese) and non-dairy cheese are some of them. 

Processed cheeses are actually the mixture of one kind of cheese with another kind of cheese or with other dairy derivatives. Some more ingredients add flavor to the cheese. This type of cheese is also known as “pasteurized process cheese food” and comprises a high quantity of sodium as compared to other cheeses. 

Non-dairy cheese is a vegan (made from plant products) cheese that comprises ingredients such as nuts, soy, coconut, etc in it. The non-dairy vegan cheese that comprises cashews, tofu, etc is much more nutritious than those that comprise components of coconut in them. Also, the famous coconut-based cheeses are highly processed, which is not the case with nut-based non-dairy cheeses. 

Nutrition Facts About Cheese

Different cheese comprises different nutrition facts. Here are the nutritional facts about some of the popular cheeses-

1. Cheddar Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 120 calories and 10 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 200 milligrams of calcium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein. Apart from that, 190 milligrams of sodium are also present in this cheese. 

2. Brie Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 100 calories and 9 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 150 milligrams of calcium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein. Apart from that, 170 milligrams of sodium are also present in this cheese.

3. Gouda Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 110 calories and 9 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 200 milligrams of calcium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein. Apart from that, 200 milligrams of sodium are also present in this cheese.

4. Mozzarella Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 85 calories and 6 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 143 milligrams of calcium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein. Apart from that, 138 milligrams of sodium are also present in this cheese.

5. Feta Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 60 calories and 4 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 60 milligrams of calcium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein. Apart from that, 360 milligrams of sodium are also present in this cheese.

6. Swiss Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 111 calories and 8.8 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 19 percent of calcium (of the DV), 0.4 grams of carbohydrates, and 7.7 grams of protein. Apart from that, 2 percent of sodium (of the DV) is also present in this cheese.

7. Non-Dairy Coconut-Based Cheese (Cheddar Style Slice) Nutrition Facts

0.8 ounces or 22 grams of this cheese comprises 60 calories and 5 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 11 percent of calcium (of the DV) and 4 grams of carbohydrates. The cheese comprises no protein in it. Apart from that, 7 percent of sodium (of the DV) is also present in this cheese.

8. American Cheese Nutrition Facts

One ounce or 28.35 grams of this cheese comprises 102 calories and 8.6 grams of fat. Also, it encompasses 22 percent of calcium (of the DV), 1.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.1 grams of protein. Apart from that, 25 percent of sodium (of the DV) is also present in this cheese.

Recipes Of Cheese

Cheese can be used to make a lot of cuisines. Some of them are-

  • Cheese Balls
  • Cheese Chilli Toast
  • Cream Cheese Sandwich
  • Cheesecake
  • Cheese Macaroni
  • Cheese Cookies
  • Cheese Garlic Bread
  • Cheese Margherita Pizza
  • Cheesy Corn Tarts
  • Feta Cheese Salad With Olive And Watermelon
  • Cheesy Potato Gratin With Garlic Cream
  • Pesto Eggplant With Cheese
  • Cheese Fondue
  • Mushroom Mac With Cheese
  • Classic Mac With Cheese
  • Mozzarella Sticks

Conclusion

Cheese, especially those that are grilled, are enriched with nutrients including vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc, and hence are beneficiary for your health, primarily for your muscle, bones, and oral health. However, the fat and calorie content in cheese makes us indecisive. We get stuck between “whether to eat it” or “not to eat it”. But, the truth is that you can eat cheese more healthily by picking a healthier bread for sandwiches, choosing flavorful yet less fat cheese, eating vegetables and fruits with the cheese, and cooking the cheese in healthy yet low-fat oil. So, consume this versatile food in a healthy way and enjoy its every crumb to the fullest.

References

Dr. Ryan Ludwig
Dr. Ryan Ludwig
Dr. Ryan Ludwig is a highly qualified nutrition specialist with a Master of Public Health degree. With over 5 years of experience in the field, Ryan specializes in providing expert nutrition counseling and education to individuals and groups. He has a passion for helping people improve their health through proper nutrition and lifestyle changes.
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