The journey to finding healthy options for cheese can be a delicious one. Discovering new cheeses can be a delight to the senses. There are some great tasting cheeses made all over the world. All you have to do is explore and find the ones that you love in moderation.
Cheese contains many good vitamins, minerals and protein, but it can also be high in fat and sodium. So buying and eating low-fat cheese is a good place to start. Purchasing the right kind of cheeses, using them correctly and also watching your portions are great ways to maximize your use of cheese. A few simple do’s and don’ts will make it easy to stay on the right path to healthy cheese options.
- Buy cottage cheese, low-fat ricotta, soft cheese spreads with herbs and low-fat cream cheese. You might be surprised to know that soft creamy cheeses are actually lower in fat than hard cheeses. Feta is semi soft and is made from either goat or ewe’s milk and its grainy texture makes it ideal for crumbling and adding to vegetables and salads. Try brie which is made from semi-skimmed milk. Its flavor gives depth to almost any dish. An inexpensive soft spread cheese can transform when you add fresh chopped herbs from your garden or roasted garlic.
- There are also some great hard cheeses available too. You just have to watch your serving size. As hard cheeses age they lose moisture and their flavors become stronger, so a little can go a long way. Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the healthiest cheeses on the market. Made from skim milk it is low in fat and full of flavor. You can grate it on a salad or top your soup to add punch and protein.
- Go to a market that has a large cheese department and ask to see the person in charge. Ask for samples and recommendations for low and reduced fat cheeses. By taste testing, you can expand your cheese knowledge and your palate at the same time.
- Even if you have found a great low-fat cheese, do not forget to check the sodium content on the package. The sodium should be less than 400 mg. for any one serving to still be healthy for you.
- Do not use any recipe that calls for more than one half cup of cheese per four servings.
- Do not buy processed cheese or cheese in a can. This includes slices and jars of cheese. The nutritional value is often times not high enough to waste your calories on.
Buying and eating organic cheeses is better for you, however it’s still a good idea to follow the above advice. Organic does not necessarily always mean that the products are low fat, low sodium or that they are healthy for you.