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By C. Marie Cradle

6 healthy approaches to cheese intake

Good news: Cheese can be a great source for calcium, Vitamin A, protein and zinc. Also, studies have shown that cheese aids against dental cavities.

Bad news: cheese is generally high in saturated fats, sodium and not beneficial for proper digestion. Weighing the good with the bad, cheese aficionados have to make decisions on which and how much cheese to consume. Here are six health-wise suggestions for a diet including cheese.

Buy fresh cheese over processed cheese

Consuming natural cheese ensures quality in every bite. Generally, natural cheese is defined as one with minimal ingredients of milk or non-dairy protein base, acids, oil and salt. Buying natural cheese from a farmer's market or cheese shop is recommended. These sources sell the freshest natural cheese possible, many of which are raw.

When shopping supermarkets, processed cheese products should not be purchased. American cheese slices and Cheese Whiz may be tasty and fun for nostalgia's sake; however, the body does not react well to these artificial products. Another highly processed cheese product to avoid is Parmesan sprinkle cheese.

Eat only a sensible portion size

Paying attention to serving size is key for healthy eating. One ounce is recommended for a cheese snack. Having one cheddar or Swiss slice is a sensible amount. Also, one string cheese stick or a cup of cottage cheese will do. Health-conscious cheese fans resist overindulgence, despite the struggle being real!

Opt for a lower calorie or low sodium cheese

Calorie and sodium counting matters for cheese intake. Fortunately, many low calorie and low sodium cheddar and other cheeses are available in the marketplace. Ricotta and cottage cheese are naturally lower in calories and sodium. For those cautious about too much salt, Roquefort cheese and overly processed cheese should be skipped.

Choose aged hard cheese to reduce lactose intolerance

One of the biggest complaints about cheese is lactose, or natural sugar in milk. Many people have lactose intolerance, a health deficiency related to poor digestion from lactose. This condition takes the joy out of eating cheese for those affected. However, ingestion of cheeses that are hard and aged eases digestion. The cheese aging process reduces lactose. Some great aged hard cheeses include Grana Padano and Reggiano.

Choose a sheep milk cheese

In the case of sheep milk cheese, there is more fat in it than cheese from a cow and a goat. However, the fat in sheep's milk is considered a good fat, containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which do not increase cholesterol levels. Also beneficial in sheep milk is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a natural fat reducer attributed to fighting cancer.

Try a healthy vegan cheese

Vegan cheese? Why not? Most vegan cheese brands, like Daiya and Tofutti, are comparatively lower in fat than dairy varieties and manage to keep strong flavor. Due to being non-dairy, vegan cheese doesn't have the setback of lactose intolerance. Those seeking vegan cheese brands should beware of heavily processed options. Those with minimal ingredients of nut milk, salt and enzymes are best for health.

Eating cheese is a pleasure to the palette and thankfully is not an absolute diet killer. Whether if it comes from a cow, goat , sheep or plant-based protein, there is a healthy cheese for each preference.

Article sources

Cheese: Nutritional Information, Risks, Benefits:

Kentuucky Sheep and Goat Development Office:

7 Lighter Options For Cheese Lovers

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