Is It Okay To Eat Cheese?
It tastes rich, sharp, pungent, mild, buttery and/or salty. Its texture may be crumbly, smooth, creamy, oozy and/or gooey. What am I talking about? Cheese! The enticing flavors, textures and satiating qualities make it irresistible to billions of cheese lovers in the world. But is it okay to indulge in this tantalizing food?
What nutrients are in cheese?
Natural cheese has an impressive nutrient profile. It’s a whole food meaning that it’s minimally processed. It offers protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A and B12. These nutrients build and maintain muscles, teeth and bones as well as playing essential roles in blood circulation and nerve function.
Some cheeses—Swiss, provolone, Emmentaler, cheddar, cottage, Gouda, Edam and Gruyère– also provide probiotics (the beneficial bacteria that keep your gut healthy). Since heat destroys probiotics, enjoy these cheeses uncooked to reap the advantages.
What about the fats in cheese?
Sometimes saturated fats in cheese give it a bad reputation. While saturated fats are linked to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, it’s important to remember that not all saturated fats are alike. Current research indicates that saturated fats from dairy foods may not affect the cardiovascular system the same way as others. Those in cheese may help prevent strokes and protect against heart disease.
Ongoing studies also suggest that a polyunsaturated fat in cheese called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) along with calcium may lower the risks of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. These nutrients help normalize blood sugar levels, ease inflammation and improve immune function. We still don’t know a lot about CLA. However, studies show it’s better to eat foods containing CLA than to take supplements.
What about sodium in cheese?
Salt flavors and preserves cheese, making many cheeses high in sodium. Consuming too much sodium may increase blood pressure and negatively affect your health. However, careful label reading reveals that Swiss, fresh mozzarella, whole milk mozzarella, cottage, ricotta and some cheddar cheeses are lower in sodium per ounce than many other varieties. Just be aware that various brands of the same kind of cheese may differ in their sodium levels.
What’s the bottom line?
Natural cheeses provide abundant health-promoting nutrients. Eating it may help you to reach your suggested daily calcium intake levels, protect against heart disease and improve your gut health. So, yes, it’s okay to eat and enjoy incredible cheese. Like most other foods, moderation is the key.