Cheese, as we have known and eaten, is probably one of the most enticing vegetarian ingredients other than chocolate that can be consumed just without any cooking or accompaniment. However, the presence and usage of cheese have always been dominated by its fat content, leading to weight gains. Little do people realize that when taken in moderation as a part of a healthy balanced diet, cheese can provide the body with some excellent nutrients always coupled with its sophisticated and delectable taste.
Correct cheese incorporated in the diet in the healthiest form is a nutritional powerhouse. And if answering the above question is the need of the hour, yes, cheese is good for health. The ingredient, most synonymous with Italy and the European continent for its origin, is milk processed and fermented through a variety of techniques resulting in different forms of cheese. Cheese may be categorized as fresh, soft, semi-firm, firm and blue veined cheese depending upon their aging, texture and processing. Mozzarella, White Cheddar, Gouda, Cottage, Feta, Parmesan, and Neufchatel are few of the many varieties of this delicious ingredient.
Almost every cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, zinc, magnesium along with phosphorus, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and B. The richness of nutrition invariably tops cheese on the list of healthy ingredients for the body. However, we must keep in mind that any food item in moderation is good but may cause adverse effects if consumed beyond the recommended limit. Cheese does contain fats that are an essential requirement of a healthy body; when paired with daily physical activity, cheese’s nutritional quotient rises.
Effect of Cheese Nutrients
Good for Bone Health
Cheese is packed with calcium that is an integral ingredient of our bones. Along with calcium, cheese also contains Vitamin D that in turn helps the body to absorb the calcium, thus providing the body with healthy bones and cartilage.
Good for Our Teeth
Just like our bones, the teeth also require a good amount of calcium and Vitamin D to be present in our diet for their good health. Added to the calcium content, cheese is low in milk sugars and lactose that makes it healthier for our teeth.
Good for Weight Gain
Cheese may have earned a bad name for causing weight gains. However, cases such as in underweight people or those suffering from along with disorders may lead to loss of weight. Cheese is a great source for nutrition helping in boosting the body weight.
Good Nutritional Source
Cheese contains Vitamin B that helps in keeping the skin supple by improving the blood formation and cell regeneration. The Conjugated Linoleic Acid along with Sphingolipids are believed to provide protection from cancer. The rich calcium and Vitamin D content also makes it an excellent addition to the diet to fight osteoporosis.
Cheese also has proven effects in helping control migraine headaches and PMS symptomatic discomforts.
Varieties for Lactose Intolerant
Cheese contains lesser amount of milk sugar, lactose that makes it ideal for those who are lactose intolerant. The bacteria used to develop cheese out of milk along with the duration of fermentation works toward lowering the lactose content in cheese. Hence the soft cheese have almost half as much lactose as the milk utilized and hard fermented cheese have an even lower percentage.
How to Choose Cheese?
Cheese quality and its freshness are associated with the uniformity, color and texture. All cheese when being bought must be soft, non-crumbly and not too dry. Ensure that the cheese is free from cracks and is uniform in its texture.
Cheese can be consumed raw with salads or as a topping in sandwiches and pizzas. Firm cheese can be grated and stored so they can be used anytime in recipes as stuffing or filling or even as a main ingredient.
Different Types of Cheese and Their Primary Health Benefits
White Cheddar Cheese
Rich in protein, the white cheddar cheese provides the body with the necessary amino acids which are the core ingredient for muscles. The protein also accelerates the metabolic rates of the body, improves satiety and also helps keep fat away. This cheese is low in carbohydrate making it fit for a low-carb diet and also low in calories.
A Holland speciality, the cheese is extremely low in calories that makes it incredibly healthy for those on a diet. Gouda is fairly rich in zinc and phosphorus that are very integral for sexual health and body tissue regeneration.
Cottage Cheese makes up for a great protein rich diet for the vegetarians. The low fat cottage cheese contains very low calories and fat that boosts weight loss. It is a good source of Vitamin B(riboflavin) that helps in the conversion of carbohydrates into energy and also improves blood regeneration.
Feta is Greek by origin and is famous for its benefits in fighting food poisoning. The Feta made from small farm sheep milk contains good quantity of digestion friendly lactic acid bacteria that can easily combat food poisoning causing bacteria, listeria. Feta is also a great source for Riboflavin which provides the body antioxidants to fight free radicals and keep the skin young and fight other body degenerations.
The cheese, originating from native France is a delicacy and not as healthy as its sister varieties. The cheese is considerably higher in fat and calories though it still is lower than the regular cheese made from full fat milk. This is also rich in phosphorus that makes a slightly unadvised to the kidney disease patients.
Like all cheese, ricotta is rich in calcium and very low in sodium. Its balanced flavor makes it a favorite with stuffs and toppings.
The most important quality of Parmesan apart from its rich calcium content is its low lactose content. This makes it a very tolerable dairy product for those who avoid lactose. Grated Parmesan cheese is low in fat as its flavorsome nature satisfies the requirements in small portions.