Monday, August 23, 2010

A Cheesy Dilemma

Ah, cheese. So many varieties, so many flavors and from so many countries. While Gorgonzola can be wonderfully piquant, a nice creamy brie can be paired with some ripe pear slices. And a sharp Canadian cheddar is always welcome as a topping on your burger or with a glass of red wine. Whatever your choice, cheese is a delicious addition to any meal or hors d'oeuvres selection.

But cheese has fat, salt, lots of calories and that dreaded cholesterol. So what would be a good choice for us folks who are trying to lose weight? And how much can we eat before it does too much damage?

An ounce of cheese is considered one serving and provides 200 - 300 mg. of calcium. Most adults need 1,000 mg of calcium per day and people 50 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Since milk is the main ingredient, cheese provides a good source of protein and vitamin B2. (Information from American Dietetic Association).

There is no reason to avoid eating cheese but it is important to pay attention to the type and amount you eat.

  • If you like to eat hard cheeses, like cheddar, look for "fat free, "reduced fat" or "low fat" on the label. They really don't taste bad coupled with something flavorful.
  • If you're looking for a soft cheese, "low fat" (1%), part-skim or light might be a good choice.
  • You will even find low fat, low cholesterol cheese selections in your grocery store. They generally have 50 - 75 percent of the fat in whole milk cheeses. Experiment with some of these to find a brand you like.

  • Cheese (1oz. Serving)Mozzarella**CheddarMonterey JackAmericanSwissColby-Jack
    Calcium content (% DV*)20%20%20%15%25%20%
    Calories (kcal)80110100110100110
    Cholesterol15 mg30 mg30 mg25 mg25 mg25 mg
    Fat5 g9 g8 g9 g8 g9 g
    Saturated Fat3 g5 g5 g6 g8 g7 g
    Protein8 g7 g7 g6 g8 g7 g
    Sodium170 mg180 mg170 mg400 mg60 mg190 mg
    * Percent Daily Value (DV) is based on a 2,000-calorie diet
    ** Mozzarella is part-skim.

Feta contains 20% fat, Camembert 24%, Brie has 29%, Parmesan 30%, Stilton 31%, Gruyère 33%, Edam contains 26% fat, cottage cheese, has about 4g of fat per 100g, although you can get even lower-fat versions.

As with most foods, moderation is the key. Use more flavorful cheese, like feta, and a little goes a long way. Portion controlled cheese such as string cheese or Laughing Cow are always good choices. Do you have any cheese preferences you care to share with us?


Karen @ WaistingTime said...

I like Baby Bel Light. That portion control thing you mention:)

Patrick said...

Love cheese, most cheese. American, keep it, just crap in cellophane. Asharp cheddar, awesome. An aged parm, splendid. Maytag Blue cheese, devine. Pinconning cheese, a hidden gem from Michigan.

As long as you have cheese to choose from, you have a welcome dilemma.

Mimi said...

Portion control is my issue. In moments of weakness, I have been known to eat through a block of cheese like an apple. Cheese has always been my downfall. Love it melted on anything.

FOODalogue said...

I was unhappy to see the high fat content of parmesan especially since it's usually going over the other enemy (carb-y pasta). Oh well. I'm not giving them up.

I use part-skim ricotta for mini desserts. With a little splenda or other sweetener, it's a good fruit parfait ingredient and/or the base for a baked cheesecake-like dessert.

M said...

I love, love, love cheese. I do have to watch it though because I tend to be lactose intolerant.

Bobbie's Babbles said...

Feta is a staple in our house. I dooooo love almost all cheese, but alas, the calories and salt content in many don't like me. However, like you say, moderation...

Linda Pressman said...

I'm not exactly a cheese connoisseur as shown by the fact that I'm easily satisfied by the shredded cheddar I buy from Costco and freeze. A one third cup serving is two points which makes me pretty happy!

Reen said...

Oh, how I love cheese! Baby Bel Light is great, and I like some of the Laughing Cow cheeses. I use 75% Cabot a lot!

I did break down last weekend and by some Amish blue cheese, but haven't opened the package yet Saving it for something special. Good thing is that a little blue cheese goes a long way.

I also have a couple containers of fat-free feta. I like that wish fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, chick peas and a little EVOO and balsamic.

Hey, by the way, how's the hooping going?

Christine said...

Great tips! For ideas on how you can take charge of your own health care, check out

The Newsham's said...

Love your blog!