Cheese is a dairy product with a rich nutritious profile containing calcium, protein, and other essential compounds. Cheese is made by curdling milk with the “Rennet” enzyme. It is a whole food and provides many health benefits such as strengthen bones, lowers blood pressure, reduces cancer risk, and promotes weight gain.
Nutrition In Cheese
As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), consuming 100 grams of cheese provides 362 kcal of energy, 5.17 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 69 mg of calcium, 181 mg of sodium, 3.45 grams of saturated fatty acids, and 34 mg of cholesterol.
It is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, and calcium.
Health Benefits Of Cheese
Following are the major health benefits of cheese.
(1) Improves Dental Health
Calcium in cheese strengthens our teeth and improves dental health.
Casein phosphopeptides in cheese prevent tooth decay.
Chewing cheese drops the pH level of the mouth and improves oral health.
Other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and other enzymes, etc. in cheese also play an important role in maintaining oral health.
(2) Promotes Bone Health
Cheese strengthens our bones as they contain calcium, magnesium, and other bone-strengthening minerals.
Calcium is essential for the growth and development of bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, a bone disorder in which our bones become weak, and are prone to damage.
It is mainly caused by calcium deficiency.
Potassium in cheese improves bone density as it neutralizes acid load and reduces loss of calcium from bones.
Magnesium also improves bone mineral density.
Vitamin D in cheese strengthens our bones by increasing calcium absorption.
About one-third of our bone’s mass is made up of protein, and protein in cheese helps in maintaining our bone health.
Vitamin B complex in the cheese also promotes bone health
(3) Promotes Weight Gain
Proper weight management is important for good health.
Both being obese and underweight is dangerous to health.
Because of its high calorific value of 362 calories per 100 grams, cheese promotes weight gain and is good for underweight people who would like to gain some pounds.
Cheese not only increases weight but also provides many health benefits as they contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, protein, fat, antioxidants, and other relevant compounds.
Despite the advantage, consume cheese in moderation as otherwise it may increase weight above the healthy mark and cause obesity.
And, if you want to lose weight, go for a low-fat content cheese variant.
This way you could enjoy the deliciousness of cheese without worrying about excessive calories.
(4) Regulates Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a health condition that affects millions around the world and is a leading cause of cardiovascular and other health problems.
In general, cheese has a high sodium and cholesterol content that increases the risk of hypertension.
If you suffer from hypertension, select “low-sodium cheese ” over regular cheese.
The low sodium level in such cheese prevents water retention in the body and reduces stress on the heart and blood vessels.
Cheese contains potassium, a natural vasodilator that relaxes blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and provides relief from high blood pressure or hypertension.
Other nutrients like calcium, potassium and vitamin B complex, etc in cheese also play an important role in regulating blood pressure.
(5) Reduces The Risk of Various Cancer(s)
Vitamin A, vitamin E, and other antioxidant compounds in cheese protect our cells from free radical damage.
It reduces the risk of various cancers such as colon cancer, abdominal cancer, intestinal cancer, and pancreatic cancer, etc.
Free radicals are unstabilized ions that stabilize by stealing electrons from neighboring molecules, and doing so causes oxidative damage to them.
As per research conducted by the University of Milan, essential fats such as conjugated linoleic acid and sphingolipids in cheese reduces the risk of colon cancer.
(6) Good Source of Essential Fats
Not all fats are bad fats.
To our body, fat is as important as other macronutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.
Fats perform many functions such as storing energy, insulating and protecting vital organs, regulating and signaling hormones, satisfies the appetite, and provide essential fatty acids.
Cheese is loaded with essential fatty acids that promote good health.
As per studies by Korea University and the University of Massachusetts, Conjugated linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid in cheese has anti-cancer properties, reduces atherosclerosis risk, strengthens immunity, and improves lean body mass.
Omega-3 fatty acids in some cheese variants reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.
(7) Strengthens Immune System
Cheese strengthens our immune system, the defense mechanism of the body that prevents and treats infections, injuries, diseases, and wounds.
Vitamin A, vitamin E, and other antioxidant compounds in cheese protect our immune cells or white blood cells from free radical damage.
This strengthens immunity and reduces the risk of illness and diseases.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cheese regulate the immune and inflammatory responses in our body.
Cheese fortified with probiotic bacteria improves immunity and reduces the risk of immunosenescence ( gradual weakening of immune system) in elderly people.
Other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and essential fatty acids, etc. also play a major role in strengthening our immunity.
(8) Benefit Pregnant And Nursing Women
Cheese contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and other compounds that benefit pregnant and nursing women.
Vitamin A, vitamin E, and other antioxidant compounds in cheese protect the fetus from free radical damage.
calcium in cheese promotes bone health and stimulates contractions during labor.
Low-sodium cheese regulates blood pressure during pregnancy and improves cardiovascular health.
(9) May Benefit Our Brain
Saturated fats in cheese can cause a higher level of inflammation and damage the arteries of the brain, resulting in cognitive dysfunction.
To avoid this, eat cheese in moderation or consume the Camembert cheese variant.
Camembert cheese reduces inflammatory cytokines in our bodies and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It promotes cognitive functions such as improved focus, a sharper memory, and better concentration, etc.
Antioxidants and relevant compounds such as phytonutrients in cheese protect our neurons from free radical damage and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, and dementia, etc.
Calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins in cheese also play a major role in improving neurological health.
(10) Promotes Thyroid Health
Selenium is a trace mineral made up of more than two dozen selenoproteins. It helps with many functions such as metabolism of thyroid hormone, DNA synthesis, reproduction, protection from oxidative damage, and so on.
Selenium in cheese promotes thyroid function and reduces the risk of thyroid disorders.
(11) Promotes Skin Health
B vitamins in cheese promote skin health.
They enhance our metabolism and promote the growth of skin cells.
It improves our skin health and reduces the risk of skin blemishes.
Vitamin A, vitamin C, and other antioxidant compounds in cheese protect our skin from free radical damage and reduces the risk of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots, and other signs of aging.
Side Effects Of Eating Cheese
Some common side effects that may arise from cheese are as follows.
(1) Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder in which our body lacks the enzyme responsible for digesting lactose ( primary sugar in milk and dairy products) and causes abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.
Avoid cheese if you are lactose intolerant to avoid possible side effects.
(2) May Cause Allergies
Cheese contains casein, a slow-digesting protein that boosts muscle growth and aids recovery after exercise.
However, in some individuals,s casein may cause inflammatory reactions throughout their body, and cause skin problems like skin rashes, sinus congestion, and acne flares, etc.
If you are allergic to casein, avoid cheese to avoid possible allergic reactions.
(3) Possible Drug Interactions
Tyramine in aged cheese may interact with antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors ( MOI).
Also, if you are taking blood sugar or blood pressure medication, consult your doctor before adding cheese to your routine to ensure there is no food-drug interference risk.
(4) Increased Risk of Migraines
Tyramine in aged cheese increases the risk of migraines and headaches in some individuals.
Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps regulate our blood pressure.
But, in excessive amounts, tyramine may spike our blood pressure and trigger migraines and headaches.
Different Types of Cheese
Cheese is available in hundreds of variants, but the six common variants are as follows.
(1) Aged Cheese
The aged cheese or the mature cheese has a firm texture and sharp flavor. The sharpness or sourness of the cheese depends on the age of the cheese. Aged cheese is sour as lactose gets completely converted to lactic acid. Some variants of aged cheese are Parmesan cheese, Swiss cheese, and cheddar cheese.
(2) Fresh Cheese
Fresh cheese is the youngest form of cheese. It tastes mild, has a soft texture and high moisture content.
Some common examples of fresh cheese are cottage cheese, cream cheese, curd cheese, and farmer cheese.
(3) Processed Cheese
Processed cheese has a consistent texture and melts smoothly in the mouth. It is made by using unfermented dairy products, salt, and emulsifiers. It is available on market in pre-sliced and unsliced forms with added preservatives to increase the shelf life.
(4) Whole Milk Cheese
This cheese is made up of whole milk and is the most common variety of cheese. As per the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA), eating one ounce (28 grams) of whole milk cheese provides around 5 grams of saturated fat.
Excessive consumption of saturated fats increases LDL cholesterol and increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems.
But in moderation, saturated fats provide many benefits such as
- Provides stiffness and stability to the cells.
- Production of serotonin hormones.
- Protection from cancer and cardiovascular issues.
- Production of other essential hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, etc.
(5) Non-Dairy Cheese
Non-dairy cheese are highly processed cheese and doesn’t involve any dairy product in their production.
Soy cheese and Daiya cheese are common examples of non-dairy cheese.
They are suitable for lactose-intolerant people.
(6) Low Fat Cheese
Low-fat cheese has a hard and rubbery texture and is made from milk after removing the fat content from it. It is made with milk with 2 percent fat.
Because of its low-fat content, it is suitable for people that are at risk of obesity and cardiovascular issues.
(7) Low Sodium Cheese
Low-sodium cheese has low sodium content in comparison to other cheese variants.
It is suitable for people with high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
(1) What happens if I eat cheese every day?
If you are eating high-fat cheese, eating cheese every day may increase the risk of health problems such as obesity, increased risk of cardiovascular problems, increased risk of high blood pressure, and so on.
Eating low-fat and low-sodium cheese is better.
If you are lactose intolerant, go for non-dairy cheese like soya cheese.
(2) Does cheese increase belly fat?
Essential fatty acids in cheese provide many health benefits when consumed in moderation.
However, in excessive quantity cheese may increase belly fat and promotes weight gain.
(3) Should I stop eating cheese to lose weight?
If you are worried that the high-fat content of cheese will interfere with your weight loss goal, go for a low-fat cheese variant such as cottage cheese.
And, if you are underweight and would like to gain some pounds, regular cheese with high-fat content is a better choice.
(4) Can cheese clog your arteries?
A high level of saturated fats in our body increases LDLcholesteroll in our body and increases the risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a condition that leads to the hardening and narrowing of arteries due to the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in our arterial walls.
It is a leading cause of cardiovascular problems.
Cheese contains saturated fats, but moderate consumption is not a problem.
also, essential fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid in cheese benefit our cardiovascular system.
(5) Which cheese is best for weight loss?
In comparison to all cheese variants, cottage cheese has the lowest fat content and is suitable for people on a weight-loss regime.
But still, eat in moderation.
The information contained in the post is for general purposes only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.