Let’s talk about cheese

Nutrition | January 31, 2018 | Author: Naturopath


Let’s talk about cheese

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding cheese and whether this food is healthy for you or not. For most people, cheese when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet is a good thing. However, if there are food intolerances/allergies and if cheese is consumed in a diet which is already high in saturated fat this can be a problem. Cheese is a source of essential nutrients—but what cheese rates the best? Let’s find out…

Cheese varieties

Cottage cheese

A mild tasting cheese, that is high in protein and low in calories. Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese that is made from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk and can either be full-fat, reduced fat or low-fat.

Cottage cheeseCottage cheese is rich in phosphorus, calcium, selenium and B12, with decent amounts of other B vitamins, vitamin A, zinc, potassium and magnesium. If your looking for a healthier dairy product, especially one for weight loss and increased satiety—look no further than cottage cheese.

A polish study followed men and women who followed a healthy diet which included healthy high-protein foods such as cottage cheese.
After one year, women lost an average of 2.8kg and men 1.4kg. They also experienced a decrease in cholesterol and triglycerides.

Dietary calcium has been associated with metabolic processes that reduce fat accumulation and accelerate fat loss.

Moreover, high intakes of protein, such as the casein in cottage cheese, have been shown to help increase feelings of fullness which can lead to reduced calorie intake and weight loss.  Also, cottage cheese offers high amounts of calcium. Studies have linked calcium and other components of dairy to reduced weight and easier weight maintenance, especially when combined with exercise.

Ricotta cheese

Ricotta cheese is similar to cottage cheese, but it has a lighter flavour. It is high in protein and contains 25% of your daily calcium needs in only half a cup. Ricotta is low in sodium but high in phosphorus, vitamins A and B and zinc.

Hard cheeses

As the name suggests—hard cheese is firm. It is often savory and includes varieties such as parmesan, cheddar, pecorino and gouda.

hard cheeseProduction involves separating and draining most of the whey before pressing the curd.

The cheese is then aged for between 2 to 36 months, and sometimes longer.

The good news in that hard cheeses are much lower in lactose and lactose-free varieties can be easily purchased at the supermarket.


Lower fat varieties are also available for people wanting to reduce their intake of saturated fat but still watch out for the higher sodium content.

Consumption of dairy products, such as hard cheeses have long been recognised as an effective strategy against osteoporosis, especially in the elderly.

Feta cheese

Feta is a soft brined cheese that is often made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. This makes feta cheese easier to digest than cow’s milk cheeses.

Feta cheeseFeta cheese is rich in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and selenium. Unfortunately, feta cheese is quite high in saturated fat and sodium and because of this needs to be used sparingly and not every day. Another benefit is that feta cheese contains probiotics which helps to maintain a healthy gut.

Feta can be used in many healthy recipes and is part of a Mediterranean diet—which has been linked to many health benefits such as lower levels of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Click Here For Article on Mediteranean Diet

Cheese doesn’t suit everyone

For the average person who eats cheese in moderation as part of a healthy diet there are certainly many benefits. However, eating cheese may not suit everyone for a variety of reasons including allergy, intolerance and high sodium content.


Milk proteins such as casein and whey are present in many cheese products and can lead to an allergic reaction in susceptible people. Symptoms may include hives, worsened asthma, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, a runny nose, watery eyes and itchy skin. In rare cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis can result.
Click Here For Article

Lactose intolerance

Cheese products contain lactose—a milk sugar that some people have trouble digesting. Lactase is an enzyme needed to break down lactose, and some people don’t produce enough of it. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include diarrhoea, bloating, nausea and flatulence. Luckily, there are many cheeses available that are free from lactose and can then be eaten by people who are lactose intolerant.


Cheese is a source of histamine and other amines which some people can be sensitive to. When you eat foods that contain histamine, an enzyme called Diamine oxidase helps you break it down so you don't notice it. But for people with low levels of the enzyme who eat aged cheese, the histamines cause the same reactions that an allergic person can have. One of the most common symptoms of histamine intolerance is a rash, but can also include headache, bloating and anxiety.
Click Here For Article on Histamine

High fat and sodium

High fat and sodiumFor people who consume excessive amounts of animal proteins in the diet (including cheese), this can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and early death. Diets high in sodium increase your risk of high blood pressure which if left untreated can lead to stroke.
Click Here For Article

But remember it’s not all bad news…

Here’s a summary of the health benefits of cheese

  • Weight-loss
  • Reduced hunger
  • Source of calcium and other nutrients Click Here For Article about Calcium
  • Bone health

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Ostrowska L, et al. Effects of dietary habits modifications on selected metabolic parameters during weight loss in obese persons. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2012;63(1):83-90


Leidy HJ, et al. The influence of higher protein intake and greater eating frequency on appetite control in overweight and obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Sep;18(9):1725-32


Josse AR, et al. Increased consumption of dairy foods and protein during diet- and exercise-induced weight loss promotes fat mass loss and lean mass gain in overweight and obese premenopausal women. J Nutr. 2011 Sep;141(9):1626-34


Plessas S, et al. Isolation, characterization and evaluation of the probiotic potential of a novel Lactobacillus strain isolated from Feta-type cheese. Food Chem. 2017 Jul 1;226:102-108


Hinrichs J. Mediterranean milk and milk products. Eur J Nutr. 2004 Mar;43 Suppl 1:I/12-17


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