The 8 Healthiest Cheeses to Eat
It’s no secret that cheese is one the most delicious foods to have ever graced this Earth (if not the most delicious food)| but it’s also no secret that it’s not really good for you. Thanks to our friends at Details| you can continue to enjoy cheese guilt-free with these healthier options.
Whether it’s paired with wine or melted over a burger| cheese is where it’s at. And not just because eating it makes life worth living.
Cheese is a nutritional powerhouse| rich in nutrients including protein| phosphorus| and don’t forget calcium| says Jim White| RD| spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Jim White Fitness training studios. It’s the number-two source of calcium in the average American’s diet.
Meanwhile| filling up on cheese could actually help you slim down. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry linked a diet rich in cheese with higher levels butyric acid| a compound that’s linked to faster metabolisms and a decreased risk of obesity. That may be why the average Frenchman| who puts away 57 pounds of cheese a year| is slimmer and has a longer lifespan than the average American.
Want to make the most of your cheese habit? Opt for these eight varieties.
| Pecorino Romano
This hard| Italian cheese from sheep’s milk is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and may be linked to lower BMIs and risks of diabetes| cancer| and health-compromising inflammation| per a five-year study from Italian and US researchers. Make sure the label says “”Pecorino Romano.”” The cheese version of “”Champagne|”” the variety is only allowed to be produced on Italy’s islands of Sardinia| Lazio| and in the Tuscan Province of Grosseto. Keep in mind that cheese made from sheep’s milk is also richer in calcium than cheese made from cow’s milk| says dietician Georgie Fear| RD| author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss.
Like you needed an excuse to never eat singles again: many of the “”cheeses”” in your dairy aisle aren’t even technically cheese. Check the label. You’ll probably either read “”pasteurized process cheese|”” which| phew| means it’s 100 percent cheese; “”pasteurized process cheese food|”” which means it is at least 51 percent cheese; or “”pasteurized process cheese product|”” which means it is less than 51 percent cheese| White explains. The rest? Often emulsifiers| vegetable oils| and additives that earn processed foods their generally horrible health rap.
Saturated fat isn’t so bad after all. A 2015 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat at least eight servings full-fat dairy per day have a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who eat one or fewer servings per day. Just remember that two to three slices of cheese counts as a serving. Meanwhile| although some reduced- and fat-free cheeses are naturally low in fat| others contain added starches and gums to get the texture closer to that of the full-fat variety| Fear says.
| Cottage Cheese
“”Ever heard the stereotype of body builders eating bowl after bowl of cottage cheese? There’s a good reason for that|”” White says. A half-cup of cottage cheese contains 15 grams of filling| muscle-building protein. Also| in a 2014 BJM Open study of 612 cheeses| it was found to be the lowest-sodium variety. As a rule of thumb| cheeses that are soft and less aged tend to be low in sodium| he says.
The little-bit-goes-a-long-way cheese is naturally strong in umami| the so-called “”fifth taste|”” which| according to a 2015 study published in Flavour| makes low-fat foods taste better and possibly improves digestion and gut health.
If you’re considering going organic| cheese is the place to start. Fat carries the largest doses of the hormones and antibiotics used in nonorganic livestock. Meanwhile| a 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that organic dairy has 62 percent more heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids than conventional milk.
Every pasta dish can benefit from some ricotta. A half-cup serving contains 14 grams of protein and 25 percent of your daily calcium needs| says White. It’s also low in sodium and high in phosphorus| B vitamins| vitamin A| and zinc.
| Aged Cheddar
The worst thing that can happen to any cheese-lover: lactose intolerance. Luckily| aged cheeses like aged cheddar contain relatively low levels of the lactose enzyme| White says. Many people with lactose intolerance can actually eat them just fine.
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