Cheese is a dairy product that comes in hundreds of different textures and flavors.
It’s produced by adding acid or bacteria to milk from various farm animals, then aging or processing the solid parts of the milk.
The nutrition and taste of cheese depend on how it is produced and what milk is used.
Some people are concerned that cheese is high in fat, sodium, and calories. However, cheese is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, and several other nutrients.
Eating cheese may even aid weight loss and help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. That said, some cheeses are healthier than others.
Here are 8 of the healthiest types of cheese.
1. Bleu cheese
While blue cheese tends to be higher in sodium, it provides more calcium than other options, which is a nutrient essential for optimal bone health. Much like parm, you'll only need a few crumbles to add flavor to salads, soups, or any homemade appetizer.
2. Goat Cheese
Goat cheese may be easier for some people to digest than cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s naturally lower in lactose and contains A2 casein, which may be less likely to cause GI discomfort than the milk proteins found in cow’s milk. Great when added to salads, wraps, spread on toast or fruit with a drizzle of honey.
3. Cottage Cheese
Higher in protein than other cheeses while staying on the low end for calories, cottage cheese is a great choice for adding to meals and snacks. Cottage cheese also contain selenium, which is a key antioxidant that helps to reduce risk of chronic inflammation
4. Ricotta Cheese
An Italian cheese made from cow, goat, sheep, or buffalo milk, ricotta cheese contains mostly whey protein, which contains all of the essential amino acids. Whey protein has often been noted for promoting muscle growth and may aid in weight management as well as heart health.
5. Mozzarella Cheese
This softer, less-aged cheese requires less salt than harder, aged cheeses, which makes it lower in sodium (most are less than 10% of the recommended daily intake of sodium).
At 200mg of calcium per serving, it's also a nutrient-packed cheese that serves as a great source of the bone-building mineral and provides up to eight grams of protein per 1 ounce serving. Add some mozz to salads, as a topping on soups, sandwiches, or omelets, or pair with tomato and fresh basil with some olive oil for a delicious caprese salad.
6. Parmesan Cheese
Packed with nutrients, especially calcium and phosphorus, both of which are important for bone health. Additionally, harder cheese like parmesan tends to be lower in fat and higher in protein (about 9 grams per serving), and while they may also be higher in sodium, the beauty of a cheese like parm is that just a little goes a long way.
The aging of Parmesan also significantly reduces the lactose content of the cheese; making it a good option for those who suffer from lactose related GI symptoms.
7. Swiss Cheese
As a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk, Swiss is a good option for someone looking for a cheese that is lower in fat and sodium. Keep in mind that brands will vary, so if you're choosing this cheese for its lower sodium content, look or ones that are 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
It is also higher in Vitamin B12 than most other cheeses, which is crucial for overall cell, muscle, and nerve function — and you'll still get about 20% of your daily value for calcium! We love this classic on sandwiches or paired with fruit for a satisfying snack. Each slice hovers around 100 calories, so it's a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
Feta is a soft, salty, white cheese originally from Greece. It’s typically made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. Sheep’s milk gives feta a tangy and sharp taste, while goat’s feta is milder.
Since feta is packaged in brine to preserve freshness, it can be high in sodium. However, it is typically lower in calories than most other cheeses.
Feta, like all full-fat dairy, provides conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is associated with reduced body fat and improved body composition (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
One study in 40 overweight adults found that taking 3.2 grams per day of a CLA supplement for 6 months significantly decreased body fat and prevented holiday weight gain, compared to a placebo (16Trusted Source).
Thus, eating CLA-containing foods like feta may help improve body composition. In fact, feta and other cheeses made from sheep’s milk typically have more CLA than other cheeses (17, 18).
However, research is limited and has mostly focused on CLA supplements.
To add feta cheese to your diet, try crumbling it over salads, adding it to eggs, or whipping it into a dip to eat with fresh vegetables.
Cheese is a widely consumed dairy product.
Most cheeses are a good source of protein and calcium, and some offer additional health benefits. In particular, certain cheeses may provide nutrients that promote gut health, aid weight loss, improve bone health, and decrease your risk of heart disease.
However, as some cheese can be high in sodium and/or fat, it’s still worth keeping an eye on your intake.
Overall, cheese can be a nutritious addition to a healthy, balanced diet.