What is the healthiest cheese to eat?

Dairy products are more complex than one might expect. There are those who believe it\’s bad for your body, those who avoid them for moral reasons, those who believe it\’s just not tasty, and there are those who can\’t go a day without consuming dairy products.

Regardless of how dairy makes you feel, during the week of Shavuot it seems impossible to avoid meals high in cheese and dairy, so we decided to check which cheese is the best for health and which is the least.

Note that the following rankings are for animal-based cheeses only, not vegan substitutes. The reason is that vegan cheeses are made in a completely different way, usually from a base of nuts, almonds or soy, so their nutritional value is always high, even if they are fattening.

Highlights: Cottage cheese, cottage cheese and \’fromage blanc\’

Cheeses have quite a few health benefits, but unfortunately the most popular cheeses have too much salt, too little calcium and more than a little fat. And these are exactly the sections that are looked into when looking for a healthy cheese. The one that does not fit into these categories, and at the same time is also mouth-watering and gluttonous, is cottage cheese. Cottage cheese (5-9% fat) can contain up to 620 mg of calcium in a three-tablespoon (100-gram) serving, with 1,000 mg of calcium being the recommended daily amount for an adult.

In ricotta, the amount of sodium (salt) is low to medium: from 100 to 300 mg of sodium, and the amount of cholesterol is also low, ranging from 3 to 27 mg. Cottage cheese is also high in quality whey protein, so it\’s always a good choice. In fact, ricotta (Italian for \”ricoocere\”) is a cheese created from the water left over from the process of making another cheese. But don\’t let that put you off, this is a particularly delicious cheese, both for spreading on bread and pairing with cheesecake and tart recipes.

Second place goes to \”plain\” white cheese (also known as maquée or fromage blanc), if you take a moment to choose the right one. Various white cheeses contain calcium in amounts ranging from 85 mg to 230 mg of calcium per 100 grams. That\’s why it\’s very useful to read the food label of apparently identical products, and to choose the cheese with the highest amount of calcium.

In 100 grams of white cheese, the amount of fat and calories is relatively low (about 0.5-9% fat, about 64-100 calories), and the amount of protein is relatively high (about 9-10 grams of protein per 100 grams) . The amount of sodium in white cheeses varies from 200 mg to even 40 mg per 100 grams, an amount considered low in sodium. The amount of cholesterol is also low.

And the third place in the list of recommended cheeses goes to cottage cheese. This is one of the most popular cheeses in Israel. Ricotta contains relatively little fat per 100 grams and the amount of calories is relatively low, about 100 calories per 100 grams. Cheese contains a high amount of protein (about 10.5-11.5 grams of protein per 100 grams). 100 grams of cheese will provide a moderate amount (about 350 mg per 100 grams) of sodium and calcium.

Which cheeses are best avoided?

Although there have been quite a few studies on the health benefits of full-fat cheeses, it is recommended to minimize their consumption. You don\’t have to remove them from the menu entirely—certainly not on Shavuot—but it\’s important that you know what\’s on them and choose the quantities you eat wisely.

Yellow cheeses, for example, including cheddar and gouda, are high in protein and calcium (700 to 900 mg of calcium per 100 grams and about 18 to 30 grams of protein) but usually the percentage of fat in they contained is extremely high (28 to 60% fat per 100 grams) of which there is a high amount of saturated fat. Additionally, yellow cheeses contain a high amount of cholesterol and sodium.

Parmesan is high in calories (about 330) and high in fat, about 23 percent fat per 100 grams, of which about 14 grams are saturated fat and about 70 mg of cholesterol. The amount of sodium is also very high (about 800-1,000 mg per 100 grams), so it is not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure.

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