Say Cheese: Nutrition Tips For Cheese Lovers

Whether paired with your favorite wine, stuck in between two slices of bread and grilled or shredded on top of pizza, cheese has a way of making everything taste better. If you are trying to eat healthier, you make think that cutting cheese out of your diet is a must, but think again.

In addition to great taste, cheese has a lot to offer nutritionally. Cheese provides a rich source of high quality protein as well as phosphorus, vitamin A and bone-building calcium. In fact cheese is the 2nd leading source of calcium in the American diet. And for those who are lactose intolerant, natural cheeses (such as cheddar, Colby, Monterey jack, mozzarella and Swiss) are a great way to get calcium because much of the lactose is removed during the cheese making process. 

To incorporate cheese into your healthy diet, try these tips: 

  • Pay attention to portion sizes: Cheese can fit into a healthy diet, however moderation is key. MyPlate recommends 3 daily servings (for those 9 and older) from the dairy foods group, which includes milk, cheese and yogurt. A serving of cheese includes:
    • 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese such as cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss or parmesan. (about the size of 6 dice)
    • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese
    • 2 ounces of processed cheese (such as American)
  • Reach for reduced fat cheese: Next time you are at the supermarket, grab a package of reduced-fat cheese and give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how the taste rivals the full-fat cheeses. Reduced-fat cheeses are at least 25% lower in fat than their full-fat versions. To boost calcium, add a little reduced-fat shredded cheese to omelets, salads or steamed veggies. 
  • Savor lower-sodium cheese: Salt is a necessary ingredient to help finish the transformation of milk into cheese however certain varieties are naturally lower in sodium than others. If you are watching your sodium intake, try Swiss, Monterey Jack, ricotta or Parmesan. 

Source: Midwest Dairy Association

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