Cheese is considered a whole food due to its impressive nutrient profile. It is rich in calcium and protein.
Cheese may help improve bone and dental health, lower blood pressure, promote weight gain, and reduce cancer risk.
This article discusses the health benefits, nutrition facts, and potential side effects of cheese. We also have included a few delicious recipes with cheese. Scroll down to get started.
Table Of Contents
Cheese contains many vitamins and minerals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA) 100g of cheese contains (1):
- Energy – 362 kcal
- Protein – 5.17 g
- Carbohydrate – 50 g
- Calcium – 69 mg
- Sodium – 181 mg
- Saturated Fatty acids – 3.45 g
- Cholesterol – 34 mg
It is a rich source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin K, and calcium. It can offer a variety of health benefits, which we will explore in the following section.
Health Benefits Of Cheese
1. May Promote Bone health
Calcium deficiency and low bone density are the factors responsible for osteoporosis (4). Cheese contains both vitamin D and calcium and helps maintain bone health (5). The vitamin B found in cheese also helps in promoting bone health (6).
2. May Improve Dental Health
Cheese is a rich source of calcium and may contribute to strong teeth. It may help reduce dental caries. This could be attributed to the presence of casein phosphopeptides in cheese (7).
Chewing cheese may increase the pH levels of the mouth and promote overall oral health (8).
Certain components in cheese may adhere to the teeth and protect them from erosion. However, more scientific evidence is needed in this regard.
3. May Reverse Hypertension
Sodium and cholesterol can cause high blood pressure. Low-sodium cheese is available that can keep blood pressure from rising (10). Vitamin B in cheese is also found to be useful in reducing high blood pressure (11), (12).
Manytypes ofcheese available on the market have high cholesterol and sodium content. Hence, be careful while choosing cheese. Go for low-sodium cheese. Consuming foods rich in potassium levels may reverse hypertension by lowering blood pressure (13).
4. May Promote Weight Gain
Cheese is high on natural fats that may promote weight gain. Some cheeses have low-fat content that may help keep your body weight balanced.
Cheese contains fat, calcium, protein, and other vitamins and minerals that may boost muscle and bone health (14).
5. Provides Essential Fats
Cheese is rich in essential fatty acids, like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Studies conducted by the Korea University and the University of Massachusetts have found that CLA possesses anticancer properties, prevents the development of atherosclerosis, modulates immune responses, and reduces body weight while improving lean body mass (15).
Another study conducted by the University of Limerick found that the essential fats available in dairy products like cheese may have anti-inflammatory properties. They may also promote cardiovascular health (16).
Some specific types of cheese may also contain omega 3-fatty acids that may protect the heart from disease (17).
6. May Reduce Cancer Risk
Cheese contains conjugated linoleic acid and sphingolipids that play a very important function in cancer prevention (18). A study conducted by the University of Milan found that sphingolipids may inhibit colon cancer in humans (19).
Calcium content in cheese may help in the prevention of certain types of cancer. One study conducted by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center found that dietary calcium could be a promising candidate in the prevention of colorectal cancer (20).
7. May Help During Pregnancy
The calcium in cheese is very good for pregnant women. It helps stimulate contractions during labor. Calcium also makes up for the deficiency of the nutrient during lactation (21)
Cheese can be a good choice for pregnant women with all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for fetal development.
8. May Improve Immune System
Some types of cheese are known to boost the functioning of the immune system. A mice study showed that a diet containing cheese could regulate the immune and inflammatory responses in the body (22). This can reduce illness and disease.
9. May Promote Thyroid Health
Adding cheese to your diet may help promote thyroid health. Cheese is a rich source of selenium that may regulate thyroid function (24). Selenium has the ability to counteract the development of viruses by aiding the production of thyroid hormones.
Cheddar cheese is a type of hard cheese. Adding it to your diet may reduce the risk of thyroid disorders.
10. May Improve Brain Function
Cheese, particularly the Camembert variant, may help improve brain function. The extracts of Camembert cheese may reduce the levels of inflammatory cytokines. It may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improve brain function(25).
11. May Boost Skin Health
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cheese may promote skin health. The vitamin B it contains may aid cell metabolism and growth. This could give you glowing skin and may also help reduce blemishes.However, limited research is available in this regard.
Though cheese is generally safe for consumption, it does have a few side effects that you need to keep in mind. Check them out in the next section.
What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Cheese?
Individuals who are sensitive to milk products should avoid cheese. It may cause allergy, lactose intolerance, constipation, migraine, and headaches. A diet high in saturated fats and sodium (eating excess cheese) may also lead to cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- May Cause Allergies
Some people are allergic to milk proteins, such as casein. This may cause an inflammatory reaction throughout the body and lead to skin rashes, sinus congestion, and acne flares (26).
- Lactose Intolerance
People who are sensitive to lactose lack the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in their body (27). Lactose intolerance may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea (28). Anecdotal evidence states that it may also cause constipation. Hence, individuals who are sensitive to lactose should limit their cheese intake.
- May Cause Migraines
The intake of a lot of cheese may cause migraines and headaches. The tyramine in aged cheeses may trigger migraines in some individuals (29).
- May Interact With Drugs
People who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOIs) should avoid the intake of cheese. These drugs are used to treat depression. MOIs may interact with tyramine that is found in aged cheeses (30).
Dairy products are high in sodium, calcium, and saturated fatty acids. Excessive intake of these compounds may lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, prostate cancer, and diabetes (31), (32), (33).
Over a thousand types of cheese are available around the world. But we commonly use six types. Find out more about them in the next section.
What Are The Different Types Of Cheese?
- Fresh Cheese
Fresh cheese generally tastes mild and is the youngest form of cheese with a high moisture content. It has a soft texture and an easily spreadable nature. Cottage, cream, curd, and farmer cheeses are some of the widely available fresh cheeses.
- Aged Cheese
It has a sharp flavor with a firm texture. In aged or matured cheese, the lactose is totally converted into lactic acid. The longer the age of cheese, the sour or sharper its flavor. Parmesan, Swiss, and cheddar are examples of aged cheeses.
- Whole-milk Cheese
Most varieties of cheese are made of whole milk. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA) one ounce (28 g) of whole-milk cheese contains 5 g of saturated fat (34).
- Processed Cheese
Processed cheese is the traditional cheese with unfermented dairy products, salt, and emulsifiers. It has a consistent texture and can melt smoothly. This type of cheese can be sold in pre-sliced and unsliced forms with added preservatives and food colors.
- Low-fat Cheese
In this type of cheese, fat is removed from milk prior to the cheese production process. Low-fat cheese is made with 2% milk and is available with a hard and rubbery texture.
- Non-dairy Cheese
Non-dairy cheeses are highly processed cheeses and are consumed by those who are highly sensitive to lactose. Soy and daiya cheeses are the perfect non-dairy cheese.
Now that you know the different types of cheese, let us check out some tips in the following section.
- Fresh cheese with no preservatives is to be used within a few days of purchase. Keep it in the refrigerator for storage and at room temperature right before eating.
- Individuals with cardiovascular disease or weight issues should choose low-sodium and low-fat cheese.
- Fontina is a slightly fruity and buttery Italian cheese. It is among the best melting cheeses available.
- Mozzarella cheese is the popular pizza topping of all-time. It has a perfect consistency and a straightforward flavor.
- High-fat cheese, such as blue cheese, can be used for adding flavor. Crumbling a little into a sauce or over a salad provides taste without too many calories.
Cheese is also used in cooking many delicious dishes. Check out the following tasty recipes.
Easy And Delicious Cheese Recipes
1. Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
- Chicken breasts – 2
- Chopped onion – 1/2 cup
- Chopped green chili peppers – 1 can
- Enchilada sauce
- Cottage cheese – 2 cups
- Sour cream – 1/2 cup
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Shred two chicken breasts and combine them with half a cup of chopped onion and a can of chopped green chili peppers in an oiled pan.
- Sauté the mixture until it turns brown. Add taco seasoning following the package directions.
In a large bowl, mix half a cup of sour cream, two cups of cottage cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place a spoonful of your chicken mix and cheese mix in 6-inch soft tortillas.
Add some shredded cheese, roll them up, and place them in a greased baking dish.
- Pour the enchilada sauce and sprinkle the shredded cheddar.
- Allow baking for about 30 minutes until the cheese is melted on top. Serve with Spanish rice.
2. Spinach And Goat Cheese Frittata
- Pancetta – 6 slices
- Spinach – 1 cup
- Leek – 1
- Eggs – 8
- Goat cheese – 1/2 cup
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Heat olive oil and add 6 slices of pancetta.
- Cook over medium-high heat until crispy. Allow to cool on a separate plate before crumbling into small pieces.
- Slice up a small leek and add it to your pan.
- Cook over low heat until soft and slightly browned.
- Add a cup of fresh spinach and cook until wilted.
- Remove the leek and spinach mixture from the pan and allow to sit with the pancetta.
- Beat 8 large eggs and add them to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about a minute.
- Spread the pancetta, leek, and spinach mixture over the eggs and top with about half a cup of goat cheese crumbles.
Bake for a few minutes until the frittata is set. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
3. Loaded Cauliflower
- Cauliflower – 1
- Garlic powder – ¼ teaspoon
Butter – 3 tablespoons
- Sour cream – 4 ounces
- Snipped chives – 2 tablespoons
- Shredded cheddar – ½ cup
- Combine a whole head of cauliflower and two tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with clear wrap and microwave for 5-8 minutes until tender.
- Drain the excess water and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor and blend until fluffy.
- Add ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, 3 tablespoons of butter, and 4 ounces of sour cream.
- Blend again until the mixture looks like mashed potatoes.
- In your serving dish, combine the cauliflower mixture and about 2 tablespoons of snipped chives, and mix in a ½ cup of shredded cheddar.
- Season with salt and pepper. Top the mixture with another ½ cup of shredded cheddar.
- Pop it back in the microwave for a few minutes or put it under your broiler to allow the cheese to melt.
- Sprinkle on some chopped chives and serve.
4. Skinny Mac And Cheese
- Grated cauliflower – 3 cups
- Sliced garlic – 2 cloves
- Chicken broth – 1 to 1 ½ cups
- Elbow macaroni – 2 cups
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- Flour – 2 tablespoons
- Grated cheddar cheese – 1 ½ cups
- Low-fat Greek yogurt – 1 cup
- Grate about a pound and a half of cauliflower into a large bowl.
- Measure about 3 cups of the grated cauliflower and add to a slow cooker with 2 cups of elbow macaroni and 2 cloves of sliced garlic.
- Whisk 1 ½ cups of chicken broth, ½ cup of milk, and 2 tablespoons of flour in a separate bowl.
- Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and macaroni, stirring everything
- Allow to cook until macaroni is tender.
- Stir in 1 ½ cups of grated cheddar cheese and a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt.
- Top with more shredded cheddar, salt, and pepper, melting the cheese before serving.
5. Parmesan Roasted Zucchini
- Zucchinis – 4 to 5
- Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Slice about 4 to 5 zucchinis into wedges (quarter them lengthwise).
- In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the zest of a lemon, and 2 cloves of garlic (minced).
- Spread the zucchini slices on the lined baking sheet and brush with your olive oil mixture.
- Sprinkle with shredded parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
- Allow to bake for a few minutes until the zucchini is tender, and then allow to boil until the parmesan is golden.
- Serve as a snack or a side with your favorite dish.
Cheese is a nutrient-rich food with many health benefits. It may promote bone and dental health, reduce hypertension, aid weight gain, and help prevent cancer.
However, some people are allergic to dairy products. People who are sensitive to lactose should avoid including cheese in their diet. Also, excess consumption of cheese may lead to some side effects. Hence, limiting its consumption and consulting a health care provider in case of any emergencies is better.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Does cheese increase belly fat?
Cheese is a good source of fat and may increase belly fat.
What happens if I eat cheese everyday?
Daily intake of cheese may offer the benefits mentioned in the article. However, excess consumption may increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.
Can cheese clog your arteries?
Excess intake of cheese can clog your arteries. Hence, limit cheese consumption in your diet.
Should I stop eating cheese to lose weight?
Cheese may promote weight gain because of its high calorie content. Limiting or avoiding cheese intake may help you lose weight.
Which cheese is best for weight loss?
Cottage cheese has the lowest fat content and works best for weight loss.
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