Is cheese bad for your health?
Almost everyone loves to snack on those cheese sandwiches or double cheese pizzas!!
We love dipping those fries in the yummy cheese dip. Nevertheless, it is kids favourite too!! But the evidence seems to shift about whether or not cheese should be a part of a healthy diet.
Cheese is considered as a whole food due to its impressive nutrient profile. To keep things brief, cheese is made by adding special enzymes and bacteria to milk, resulting it to separate. This separated solid curd is used to make cheese.
Many types of cheese contain high amounts of salt and saturated fats. On the other hand, it is filled with protein and calcium.
So what’s the verdict? Is the creamy, salty, stringy snack healthy, or should you enjoy it once in a while?
How healthy is cheese?
Sure, Cheese not only makes all kind of foods taste better, but also it happens to serve us with some valuable nutrition. First in the list is Calcium- The bone mineral
1. Good source of calcium
Being super rich in calcium, cheese can aid to prevent osteoporosis.
High calcium intake is also directly linked to lowering blood pressure. Pairing the low sodium cheeses with potassium rich foods can reverse hypertension. So why not top that sandwich with some shredded cheese?
2. Cavity fighting power
Being alkaline in nature, cheese prevents expensive dental work that results from tooth decay. It guards the teeth from erosion, possibly due to chewing.
3. High in Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 also known as Cobalamin, is one of the most complex vitamins discovered to this day.
It helps in promoting mental health, avoiding anaemia and neurological damage. Cheese being rich in this vitamin, is always the most preferable vegetarian source of vitamin B12
4. Gain in weight
Cheese has been always a healthy and a correct choice for gaining weight for both children and elderly
5. High in protein
Cheese can help you receive your daily amounts of proteins giving you a healthier and glowing skin, hair, boosting immunity and giving you a leaner muscle.
6. Good source of essential fatty acid
Cheese is high in Conjugated Linoleic acid, which plays a vital role in supporting the body’s immune and inflammatory systems, improving bone density, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of heart diseases
7. Good for thyroid health and reduces the risk of cancer
Due to presence of linoleic acid, cheese plays a crucial role in preventing cancer
8. Benefits the immune system
Cheese which is fortified with probiotic bacteria, can boost immune system
9. Good choice for pregnant women
When consumed by pregnant women, cheese not only provides calcium, but it can also offer other essential nutrients like protein and B complex vitamins necessary for foetal growth and development.
Different types of cheese
There are a thousand different varieties of cheese, ranging from mild to mature in flavour and also low fat to high fat in composition. It can be made from the milk of cows, sheep, goat or other animals.
- Whole-milk cheese- Contains between 6- 10gms of fat per serving out of which 4 to 6 gm is saturated fat
- Fresh cheese- They usually have a high moisture content, soft in texture and milder in taste. Examples include ricotta, cream cheese or cottage cheese
- Aged cheese- They are firmer in texture. Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan cheese are examples of aged cheese
- Processed cheese- Like cheese spread, or American cheese
- Low fat cheese- Made with 2 % milk or skimmed milk.
- Non-dairy cheese- Such as Soy cheese and daiya, suitable for lactose intolerant people
Which type of cheese is better for you?
While most of cheeses are high in protein, low moisture- content cheeses are your best choice.
If you are looking for a boost of protein, Parmesan cheese is the one for you. It is the highest protein- content cheese, with 10gms protein per serving.
Stay far from “wet” cheeses, like cottage, ricotta, or other cheese spreads if you are looking for protein content. Also processed cheese which are loaded with salt, emulsifiers, flavours, preservatives and fillers should also be avoided.
However, if you desire to improve your vitamin B12 levels, Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese can be beneficial.
Pregnant women on the other hand should choose soft cheese in cooked form. Also, if any thyroid disorders, cheddar cheese can be your good friend. However, high fat cheese like the blue cheese can be used for adding flavour. Crumbling a little into sauces or over salads provides adequate taste.
People with cardiovascular disease or weight issues should choose low-sodium and low-fat cheese.
Did you ever imagine that cheese could offer you so many health benefits? So, it’s time to enjoy the food you eat and know that it’s good for you. Cheese is delicious, and you can get carried away while eating it.
But moderation is the key for good health. When you eat it in the right way and the right quantities, you will support your body with all the minerals and vitamins it needs.
So, what’s your excuse for not eating cheese?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.