Cheese is a great replacement for meat. The downside of cheese is the high salt content. If you are watching your weight, cheese is pretty heavy in calorie content. The heathiest cheeses are the softer cheeses like feta and mozzarella. The harder the chesse is the saltier and higher in saturated fat it is. Also, the low fat processed chesses are not as healthy because they contain preservatives.
All cheese contains some level of saturated fat unless it is one of the fat-free varieties. Cheese when considered from a nutritional point of view contains calcium, protein, phosphorus, Vitamin A, Vitamin B and many minerals such as zinc.
Cheeses made with goat’s milk are often a healthier option. The composition of goat’s milk makes it quite similar to mother’s milk and the make-up of the fat globules present are far more easily digested than the fat present in cow’s milk and non-mucous forming.
All milk contains tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids that can’t be manufactured by the body. The body produces serotonin from tryptophan – one of the chemical neurotransmitters responsible for well being, positive mood enhancement and healthy sleep.
Lactose, the carbohydrate found in milk, is lower in ripened cheese and aged cheeses have virtually no lactose content which is useful information for those who have lactose sensitivity.
1. Feta cheese: Feta cheese is made from either goat’s milk or sheep milk and is therefore one of the healthier alternatives.
2. Ricotta: Ricotta is generally considered to be one of the healthiest cheeses as it has a low fat content.
Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 39 calories, 3 g protein, 2 g fat, 1 g carbs, 8% calcium
3. Parmegiano Reggiano: Parmegiano Reggiano is a high quality Parmesan cheese that has a lower fat content than many cheeses due to the processes used in its production. Parmesan is relatively low in calories - 110 in a 30 gram serving - but it's high in sodium: 449 milligrams for the same serving size.
Serving size: 1 oz, hard (28 g), 110 calories, 10 g protein, 7 g fat, 1 g carbs, 33% calcium, 19% phosphorus, 19% sodium
4. Halloumi: Halloumi is another goat’s or sheep milk cheese that originated in Cyprus. Do check labels as some modern manufacturers make this cheese with cow’s milk therefore regulating it out of the healthiest category.
5. Quark: Quark is another form of unpressed cheese curd that generally has a lower salt content than normal cottage cheese and is now widely available in supermarkets.
6. Mozzarella (Part Skim): Mozzarella is lower in calories than most common cheeses, which makes it the perfect app or snack. Try fresh mozzarella sliced with tomato and fresh basil with balsamic vinaigrette. Or eat as string cheese between meals at work.
7. Swiss (Swiss Emmentaler): Since it comes in a number of varieties, including low-sodium or low-fat, it's easy to find a version that fits your dietary needs. As a hard cheese, Swiss is also richer in phosphorus than nearly all soft cheeses.
Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 71 calories, 7 g protein, 4 g fat, 1 g carbs, 22% calcium, 13% phosphorus
8. Gouda: This creamy Dutch cheese made from cow milk is known by its yellow color and sweet, nutty flavor. While whole milk Gouda is fairly high in fat, some Goudas are made from partly skim milk, reducing the fat content. Standard Gouda is also lower in fat than cream Gouda. If you are sensitive to lactose, choose Gouda that has aged at least a year. This cheese works well for snacks and in sandwiches and aged Gouda can be grated over pasta and potato dishes.
Many of the well known cheeses such as Brie and Mozzarella come in low fat or even fat-free varieties.