Five good reasons to eat cheese
Do you hesitate to put a slice of tangy cheddar cheese on your sandwich or some cubes of creamy mozzarella cheese in your salad because you think it’s too fattening? Here are five good reasons that should help to change your mind…
Often maligned for its high fat content, cheese can be overlooked in the name of weight loss and a fat-free diet. But cheese, which has been on the human eating agenda across Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for thousands of years, has a lot of good to offer on the nutritional front.
Cheddar, feta, Edam, mozzarella… don’t mistakenly brand cheese as an enemy and miss out on all its delicious nutritional goodies.
1. Yes, cheese is high in fat, but…
Let's concentrate on the but... Cheese is high in fat, BUT eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet (at lunch in your sandwich…) you won’t be eating a ton of it, so not a ton of fat either. Often, it is not the cheese itself that’s the problem, BUT more how we eat it, and how much of it… Obviously if you are eating a triple-cheese pizza three times a week, you’ll be overdoing it, as you would if you wolfed down entire blocks of chocolate or full packets of biscuits… With cheese, as with many rich foods, quality and quantity count.
It’s important to understand how much fat is found in the various types of cheeses, and then you can adapt the quantity you eat. While 28g of Cheddar contains 9.2g of fat, the same quantity of feta contains only 5.7g. Make sure you read the nutritional labels on packaging before buying your cheese, where you’ll also find a percentage of fat calculated in relation to the amount of milk solids.
In general for an equal amount of fat, the more solid a cheese and the less water it contains, the higher number of calories it also contains. As an example; that solid 28g of Cheddar will give you 116 calories, with the same amount of feta only 70 calories.
Read more about fat, calorie and calcium values for different cheeses: Which cheese?
2. Cheese is brimming with calcium
Cheese makes it to the winning line first in terms of calcium. Calcium is essential for lifelong healthy bones: during childhood the skeleton grows with calcium needs culminating during the teen years (around 1200mg). Despite this, 25% of UK teens had a level of calcium intake below the RDA. Teens stop drinking milk, often considered a kid’s drink and teenage girls can avoid cheese as being fattening.
As an adult, calcium is required for maintenance and bone renewal: a skeleton renews itself 4-5 times during a lifetime. Women need to increase calcium intake during pregnancy and breast-feeding, as the baby will take his calcium needs directly from his mum’s body. And lastly, calcium remains one of the most important means of fighting against osteoporosis: a loss of bone density that particularly affects women during the menopause.
Read more about calcium in our mineral directory: Calcium
3. Cheese is a source of protein
Proteins help build the body and allow the body to grow and stay healthy. The most complete proteins come from animal sources, such as cheese, eggs, meat and fish. The main difference between animal and vegetal proteins is that animal proteins contain amino acids, which the body cannot produce itself, but are essential to good health.
The RDA for protein is around 0.8g per kilo of weight for an adult (a 70 kg man would need 70 x 0.8 = 56). The ideal would be to consume 50% of the required protein from animal sources and 50% from vegetal sources. 50g of cheese supplies the same amount of protein – about 10g – as 50g of meat of fish.
Today’s trends are seeing a reduction in the amount of meat we are eating, so you can replace that with cheese to make up some of your dietary protein requirements.
Read more about protein: Proteins for growth
4. Cheese is chock-a-block full of vitamins
Vitamin A, with its powerful antioxidants, feature strongly in cheese. Known as the eye vitamin (a severe deficiency can provoke blindness in children), Vitamin A participates in many body functions such as cellular renewal. Cheese also holds a stock of Vitamin B2 (generally well covered as it is present in a large number of foodstuffs), which is essential for metabolic function. And lastly, cheese can also contribute – albeit slightly – to our dietary requirements of Vitamin D.
Learn more about 13 different vitamins: Vitamin Directory
5. Cheese tastes so darn good!
We all know that completely cutting out a food that we like causes only frustration and temptation. So rather than swinging between total sobriety and uncontrolled cheese binges, include and enjoy it in your diet – in moderate amounts – to help ensure healthy bones, lifelong.
A crisp water cracker, some plump grapes, a chunk of mature cheese and a glass of white wine… heaven! With globalisation, we now have access to hundreds of amazing cheeses, in addition to traditional British favourites. Whether it be hard, soft, goat, cow, buffalo or sheep cheeses, ripened, curdled, herbed, smoked, grated, sliced, white, yellow or blue – cheese has something to fit everyone’s taste and budget. So why miss out?
Get some delicious recipes using cheese: Feta cheese squares
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