Cheese is basically a dairy product made from milk. It is available in numerous textures, flavors and forms. Cheese is comprised of fat and milk proteins. These are mainly sourced from cows, goats, sheep and buffalo.
Cheese has been surrounded by controversies for decades. While some researchers think it healthy, others think it’s not. It’s true that cheese has high calcium content thus a recommended diet. However, it is high in fat. So, is it healthy or not?
Let’s explore some of the nutritional facts, types and benefits associated with cheese and probably make a final verdict.
The History Behind Cheese
Cheese dates back 7200 years. Its origin is fuzzy but it is said to have been discovered by a herdsman. The herdsman had carried milk for his consumption is a pouch made from sheep stomach and the milk happened to have separated into curd and whey.
The exposure of the milk to sun and other environmental factors introduced us to the world of cheese. Cheese has no specific origin but it is believed to have originated in the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia and the Sahara.
The cheese business sprouted in the ancient rome era. This is at a time when the cheese was vended to satisfy social elites’tastes.
Cheese Nutritional Facts
Cheese may be added to sandwiches, salads or even eaten plain. Either way, it will deliver the coveted creamy flavor. But do you know what cheese adds to your body? Well, here are the cheese nutritional facts as provided by the USDA.
- Sugars: 0.4 g
- Calories: 106
- Sodium: 54 mg
- Fats: 7.8 g
- Protein: 7.5 g
- Fiber: 0 g
The nutritional facts may vary depending on the type of cheese served. Mozerella cheese is known to have the lowest calories level. A single serving o mozzarella cheese delivers 7 g protein, 86 calories and 6 grams fat.
Parmesan cheese is yet another healthy cheese option. A single table spoon of parmesan cheese delivers 2 g protein and 20 calories. Parmesan cheese has an intense flavor. You will thus need to use just a little of it in your recipe.
Other popular healthy cheese options include;
- Swiss cheese. This provides 8 g fat and 100 calories per serving.
- Cheddar cheese. This delivers 7 g proteins, 9 g fat and 114 calories.
- American cheese. This is pasteurized and processed cheese that delivers 5 g protein, 94 calories and 7 g fat.
- Blue cheese. A single serving delivers 6 g protein, 8 g fat and 100 calories.
While a number of cheese types will be healthy, there’s a good percentage that will be unhealthy. These unhealthy cheese options have high calorie levels and contain oils and fillers meant to boost taste and texture.
|Sodium (mg)||Calcium (mg)|
Some Of The Unhealthy Cheese Options Include;
- Cheese dips.These are jarred cheese types. In most cases, these cheese types will be mixed with artificial flavors and oil. Manufacturers have realized that junk lovers are inclined towards creamy and spicy products thus the artificial ingredients.
- Cheese spray.This type of cheese normally comes in a can. It is part cheese and part artificial flavors and spices. It contains lots of oils and additives.
- Cheese singles.Not every cheese single will actually be cheese. Some will be cheese-like products coated in oil and spices.
Different Types Of Cheese
Cheese comes in different forms. Every European country is known to have a specific type of cheese. Some of the popular types include;
1. Fresh Cheese (19% To 24% Fat)
This is a type of cheese that has no rind. The inside is thus similar to the outside. Some of the classic examples of fresh cheese are cottage cheese, ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
The fresh cheese has a mousse like texture owing to its high moisture content. It’s lemony, mild and white in color. It may be covered in herbs, rolled in ash or wrapped in chestnut leaves.
2. Aged Fresh Cheese (19% To 24% Fat)
This is fresh cheese that has already developed a thin rind. Goat milk is known to make excellent aged fresh cheese. The rid is usually transparent and may be grey-blue in color.
When left to dry, the aged fresh cheese shrinks and the wrinkles may become crevasses. The crevasses expose the delicate blue mould making it darken. The cheese flavor intensifies and the texture is almost brittle.
3. Soft Cheese (24% To 26% Fat)
The soft cheese develops a soft white rind. This rind aids in cheese ripening and prevents drying out. This gives the soft cheese its signature sweet buttery taste. You can easily mistake the favor for mushroom and beef consommé soup.
An addition of cream to the soft cheese gives it a creamy touch. This cream ensures that the cheese doesn’t run and may be eaten mature or fresh.
4. Semi-Soft Cheese (26% To 28% Fat)
The semi-soft cheese is made by pressing the curd softly to remove the whey. This leaves you with a rubbery elastic cheese. Some of the common types of semi-soft cheese are Edam, Port Salut, St Nectaire, Raclette and Reblochon cheese.
The semi-soft cheese may have slightly formed rind. They are sweet, buttery and have a mild flavor. Normally, the color will be thick grey-brown. When washed in brine and finished with alcohol, the color may change to brown. The washing encourages development of bacteria giving it the orange color, strong aroma and a pungent flavor.
5. Hard Cheese (28% To 34% Fat)
Just as the name suggests, this is hard cheese that undergoes many hours of pressing to remove all the whey. This is compact curd cheese and may be wrapped in a cheese cloth and dipped in brine.
The aim of dipping the hard cheese in brine is sealing it thus protecting it from drying out. The cheese can then be placed in cellars for years. Some of the renowned types include Manchego, cheddar, Beaufort, Pecorino, Parmean and gruyere.
Hard cheese may be blue, white, pink or grey in color. Once brushed, the rind will be smooth and polished due to the low moisture content.
Cheese Health Benefits
Some people think that cheese is unhealthy. Well, though it may have its drawbacks, cheese is a healthy option. Here are some of the health benefits you stand to gain from cheese.
1) Bone Health
Cheese is a dairy product. It is thus packed with calcium that is crucial in healthy bones development. Cheese is known to contain calcium, zinc, proteins, magnesium and vitamins A, K and D that boost bone growth and development.
2) Dental Health
The calcium content in cheese will not only strengthen your bones but also your teeth. Calcium plays a vital role in tooth formation. A high pH level is known to offer protection against dental cavities. Eating cheese raises plague pH thus protecting the teeth from defects.
3) Development Of Healthy Blood Vessels
Blood vessels channel blood to vital organs in the body. It is this important that one maintains healthy blood vessels. Antioxidants are known to help maintain healthy vessels.
Dairy products such as cheese contain high levels of antioxidants. The antioxidants will not only boost vessel health but will also prevent vessel aging and neuro-degeneration.
4) Healthy Weight Gain
Not everyone is trying to lose weight. A good number is trying every means possible to gain weight. Eating cheese is one of the healthiest ways to gain weight.
Eating cheese will help you gain weight gradually. It however needs to be eaten in moderation. To achieve the desired healthy weight without negative health effects, balance off the cheese with fruits and vegetables.
5) Cells Building And Repair
Cells die every other day. Your body thus needs to make new cells and repair those that need repair. Cheese offers the protein needed to build and repair cells. A single once of cheddar cheese can deliver up to 7 grams of protein.
6) Maintaining Low Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is associated with numerous health challenges and may even result in death. In a bid to maintain low blood pressure, doctors recommend a touch of cheese in desserts.
Cheese is rich in fat and sodium. It also contains significant amounts of calcium. Some cheese types such as Swiss cheese that has moderate amounts of these minerals will be best suited to control blood pressure.
Cheese has its benefits and drawbacks. If not eaten in moderation, one stands to sufferer the following risks.
Individuals suffering from lactose tolerance lack crucial enzymes needed to digest milk sugar. This means that consumption of milk and milk products such as cheese may result in flatulence, bloating or diarrhea.
Fresh, soft and semi soft cheese such as mozzarella are common lactose tolerance triggers. Hard cheese such as parmesan and cheddar may have mild effects. They therefore need to be consumed in small amounts.
Allergies are known to be abnormal reactions to harmless triggers. Milk and milk products may be triggers resulting to the release of immunoglobulin E antibodies. This results in wheezing, vomiting, post nasal drip and diarrhea. In extreme cases, one may suffer anaphylaxis, asthma, pneumonia, bleeding, eczema or shock.
Cheese is a valuable source of essential vitamins and mineral salts. It is one of the dairy products that will not only help you preserve your milk but will also boost your dairy productivity.
Cheese comes in different forms and the demand for these types of cheese will vary from one region to the other. When making your cheese for domestic consumption, it’s important that you understand the nutritional facts of the different types of cheese.
Learn how to make the different types of cheese just to be sure that you are snacking on healthy dairy option. You may also need to check out our post on the different types of cheese. Cheese comes in different forms and we have only covered a few forms. Walk with us as we build your knowledge base.