Whether stuffed in meatballs, used as a salad topping, or eaten by itself — there’s no denying that cheese tastes so good. Cheese also fits into many diets, including keto, vegetarian, pescatarian, and Mediterranean. But, you might be wondering, is cheese good for you?
In this article, we’ll tell you more about why cheese may or may not be beneficial, different ways to enjoy cheese, and seven options to try.
Is Cheese Good for Your Health?
Cheese is packed with nutrients, making it one of the best foods for health. Nutrients in cheese, such as calcium, sodium, phosphorus, and even good bacteria (in certain types of cheese) help your body work properly and thrive.
So, in and of itself, cheese is healthy. The key is to have it in the right amounts, meaning that you should be aware of how much cheese you’ll need in a day depending on your macronutrient targets (carbs, fat, and protein). This is especially true for those whose goals are to reduce carbs and lose weight.
Health Benefits of Cheese
Cheese can contribute to better health in many ways. Read the benefits of cheese below, from optimal nutrition to a lower risk of disease.
Meets your nutritional needs
Proper nutrition allows for normal growth and it ensures that your body is capable of fighting off illnesses. Cheese is a wonderful source of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
Not to mention, it’s low in carbohydrates, making it an option for people on the keto diet. For example, 1 oz of cheddar cheese has less than 1 gram of carbs, 9 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein [*].
While cheese supports good nutrition, keep in mind to eat cheese as part of a varied diet which includes meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, fruits, and veggies.
Helps strengthen your bones
Calcium is popular for its ability to form and maintain the integrity of bones. Not having enough calcium increases a person’s risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Adults need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, and this increases to 1,200 milligrams for those ages 51 and older.
For those who love cheese, it’s a rich source of calcium. Cheddar cheese, for instance, has 710 milligrams of calcium in a 100-gram serving [*][*]. Pair it with a non-dairy calcium source, such as nuts, and you’ll meet most of your requirements for the day.
Promotes gut health
Probiotics, live bacteria that aid digestive health, are found in cheese. More specifically, probiotics allow your body to digest food and absorb medications. They fight off bad bacteria. Examples of cheeses with probiotics include cheddar cheese, gouda, and feta cheese.
Aids weight loss
If you’re on a diet that increases weight loss, such as keto, cheese can help you reach your goal — thanks to its protein and healthy fat content. Protein and fat are macronutrients that boost your satiety. As a result, you feel less hungry.
Given that cheese is low in carbohydrates, it can maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which ultimately prevents you from gaining weight.
Reduces diabetes and heart disease risk
Is cheese bad for you if you want to avoid chronic diseases? As it turns out, there is an inverse association between consuming cheese and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease — as evidence suggests [*].
A 2018 review also found that fermented dairy products, such as cheese, have a positive or neutral effect on cardiovascular health [*].
Saturated fat, which is found in cheese, does not clog the arteries. Rather, coronary artery plaques are caused by insulin resistance and systemic inflammation due to excess sugar and refined carbohydrates [*].
Healthy Ways to Eat Cheese
One tip is to use cheese as a replacement for junk foods. Instead of potato chips loaded with carbs and inflammatory vegetable oils, make some cheddar cheese slices. Eat cheese by itself or pair it with nuts for a filling afternoon snack.
Note that cheese is high in calories and fat. It’s best to avoid combining lots of cheese with carb-rich foods like bread and pasta. This unhealthy combination encourages you to overeat, which results in energy excess and fat storage.
Healthy Cheese Options
Cheddar is almost everyone’s favorite cheese, but here are more types of low-carb and healthy cheeses you can have:
- Pepper jack
- Blue cheese
- Feta cheese
- Goat cheese
When Is Cheese Bad for You?
Despite the positive effects of cheese on your health, some individuals cannot or choose not to eat cheese for a couple of reasons. Lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy, and following a vegan diet are common reasons for avoiding cheese. Read more below:
Lactose intolerance is a condition in which a person cannot digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy. If you’re lactose intolerant, you should avoid cheeses that are higher in lactose. Examples are cream cheese, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. In contrast, aged and hard cheeses tend to be lower in lactose.
Dairy allergy is when your own immune system reacts to milk and dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Signs and symptoms of a dairy allergy include bloating, diarrhea, rashes, difficulty breathing, and a loss of consciousness [*]. It’s best to avoid dairy products, including low-lactose foods, if you’re allergic to dairy.
Following a vegan diet for whatever reason means avoiding all animal byproducts. So, whether or not you’re intolerant to cheese, a plant-based nutrition plan doesn’t include cheese.
The Bottom Line
Is cheese healthy for you? Of course. Cheese can be part of a diet that promotes good health. We’ve learned in this article some of the things cheese does for your body, such as meeting your macro and micronutrient intake, aiding weight loss, and lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Cheese tastes great; however, people on vegan diets and those with lactose and dairy intolerances cannot eat cheese. In that case, look for cheese substitutes that also provide calcium, other important micronutrients, healthy fats, and protein.
Are you able to tolerate cheese? Want a convenient and healthy cheese snack? Explore our delicious snacks at Käze. Find your best flavor today.