Cheese is a dairy product that is known for its rich nutritious profile due to the presence of calcium, protein, and other essential compounds in them. It is a whole food that provides numerous health benefits ranging from stronger bones, lower blood pressure, reduced cancer risk, and promotes weight gain, etc. It is made by curdling the milk with the help of an enzyme called “Rennet”. In this article, we will know about the major health benefits of cheese, but first, let’s talk about the amazing nutrients present in the cheese.
Nutrition In Cheese
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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. Additionally, it is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, and calcium.
Health Benefits Of Cheese
Some of the significant health benefits provided by cheese are as follows
(1) Improves Dental Health
Cheese is very beneficial for our dental health as it makes our teeth stronger due to the presence of calcium in it.
It is also effective for preventing tooth decay due to the presence of casein phosphopeptides in them.
When we chew cheese, then the pH level of the mouth drops, and this improves our oral health.
Additionally, other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and other enzymes, etc. also play a major role in improving our oral health.
(2) Promotes Bone Health
Osteoporosis is a bone disorder in which our bones become weak and fragile, and are prone to damage and fracture. It is caused by the deficiency of calcium in our body.
Cheese is very beneficial for our bone health as it strengthens our bones, and thus reduces the risk of Osteoporosis.
This advantage of cheese is mainly due to the presence of bone-strengthening minerals such as calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and protein in it.
Calcium is an essential mineral for our bone health as it is needed for the growth and development of the bones. Deficiency of calcium can lead to poor bone density resulting in Osteoporosis.
Similarly, magnesium, a vital mineral present in the cheese also helps in improving bone density.
Cheese is also rich in vitamin D which plays an important role in making our bones stronger as it increases the rate at which calcium is absorbed by the body from food and supplements. It is the reason due to which most calcium supplements also contain some amount of vitamin D to increase the absorption of calcium in the body.
Eating cheese provides both the calcium and the vitamin D for stronger bones.
Also, the protein present in the cheese plays a significant role in keeping our bones healthy.
It is a common belief that calcium is the only mineral that we need for improving our bone health, but this is far from the truth.
About 50 percent of our bones’ volume and about one-third of our bones’ mass is made up of protein.
Vitamin B complex in the cheese also promotes bone health
(3) Promotes Weight Gain
The health of a person depends on many factors and one such factor is proper weight management. Both being obese or underweight is bad for our health.
Being underweight is bad for us as it can increase the risk of various health problems such as the increased risk of osteoporosis, poor immunity, irregular menstrual cycles, increased risk of anemia, fatigue, and impaired growth, etc.
Cheese can’t help with weight loss, but it can surely help with weight gain because of the high level of natural fats in them.
It is high in calories, and eating 100 grams of cheese provides around 362 kcals of energy, which helps in weight gain.
Other nutrients like calcium, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, etc. also promote healthy bone mass and weight.
Although cheese is good for weight gain and helps underweight people, it is advisable to be on the safe side and consume it in moderation as excessive intake may lead to obesity, which is a leading cause of various health issues.
Also, if you are already looking to get rid of some extra pounds from the body, then it is better to go for the cheese variant with low-fat content in it. This way you can enjoy the delicious cheese without worrying about the excessive calories.
(4) Low Sodium Cheese May Regulating Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common health problem that affects millions of people around the world and is a leading cause of various cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, heart stroke, irregular heartbeat, and so on.
For healthy living, it is important to keep our blood pressure under control, and for this “Low sodium cheese” is the right choice.
In general, cheese has high sodium and cholesterol content that may contribute to high blood pressure.
So, if you are suffering from high blood pressure, then go for the cheese with low sodium and cholesterol in it.
The low level of sodium in the cheese prevents water retention in the body which could otherwise lead to excessive stress on the heart and blood vessels, giving rise to high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues.
Cheese also contains potassium which is a natural vasodilator that relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and thus provides relief from hypertension or high blood pressure.
Other nutrients like calcium, potassium and vitamin B complex, etc also play a significant role in keeping blood pressure under control.
(5) Reduces The Risk of Various Cancer(s)
Another advantage of consuming cheese is its ability to reduce the risk of various cancers such as colon cancer, abdominal cancer, intestinal cancer, and pancreatic cancer, etc.
This benefit of cheese is due to the presence of essential fats such as conjugated linoleic acid and sphingolipids.
As per research conducted by the University of Milan, it was found that sphingolipids are effective for reducing the risk of colon cancers in humans.
In Another research conducted by the Texas Tech Univesity, it was observed that dietary calcium present in the cheese is effective in preventing the risk of colorectal cancers.
Also, some cheese variants available in the market are fortified with antioxidants such as vitamin A and vitamin E that protects our cells and tissues from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals of the body, and thus reduces the risk of various cancers.
(6) Good Source of Essential Fats
Fat is infamous for being bad for our health, and these days health-conscious people do their best to stay away from it. Fat is considered as kryptonite that can bring superman and superwoman on their knees.
However, this is not the right way to look at fats.
There are different types of fats, and some fats are essential for us and play an important role in keeping us healthy.
As per the studies conducted by the Korea University and the University of Massachusetts, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an essential fatty acid present in the cheese is known for its anti-cancer properties, prevents the risk of atherosclerosis, strengthens immunity, and may also help in improving lean body mass.
In another study conducted by the University of Limerick, it was found that essential fatty acids in cheese and other dairy products can also provide relief from inflammation because of their anti-inflammatory properties, and is also good for our cardiovascular system.
Some variants of the cheese also have Omega-3 fatty acids in them that can protect our cardiovascular system from diseases.
(7) Better Immunity
Regular and moderate consumption of cheese helps in making our immune system better.
Our Immune system plays a vital role in keeping us healthy as it is the defense mechanism that protects us from disease-causing microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, etc., and thus reduces the risk of various microbial infections and diseases.
Even when we get sick or sustain an injury or wound, our immune system plays an important role in making us healthy again.
Given the importance of the immune system to our body, we must take good care of our immune system and cheese can help in doing the same.
Studies conducted on the mice revealed that cheese is effective in reducing illness and diseases because of its ability to regulate the immune and inflammatory responses in the body.
The antioxidants present in the dairy products such as cheese combats against the free radicals, and thus prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, including the white blood cells that act as the first line of defense, and is considered as a backbone of our immune system.
This strengthens our immune system, and when our immune system is stronger, we are less likely to get infected by cough, cold, flu, and fever, etc.
Other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and essential fatty acids, etc. also play a major role in strengthening our immunity.
(8) Good For Pregnant And Nursing Women
Pregnancy is an important stage in a women’s life. During this crucial stage, she must ensure that she is enjoying a healthy meal full of nutrients. What she eats or drinks not only determines her health, but also the health and wellness of the fetus growing in her womb.
Being a rich source of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids, etc it helps in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Calcium in the cheese helps stimulate contractions during labor, and also makes up for nutrient deficiency during the nursing period.
(9) Good For Brain
Cheese is high in saturated fats which are considered as bad for our brain as it can lead to a higher level of inflammation which can damage the arteries in the brain resulting in cognitive dysfunction.
For this reason, it is suggested to consume cheese in moderation.
And, if you would still like to enjoy the cheese without the fear of cognitive dysfunction then lookout for Camembert variant of these. Extract of Camembert cheese is known for reducing inflammatory cytokines level in the body, and thus reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and promotes cognitive benefits such as improved focus, a sharper memory, better concentration, etc.
Other nutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin B complex and selenium, etc. present in the cheese also play a significant role in keeping our brain healthy.
(10) Promotes Thyroid Health
Cheese is an excellent source of selenium which makes it very beneficial for promoting thyroid function.
Selenium is a trace mineral that is made up of more than two dozens of selenoproteins and helps maintain various functions such as metabolism of thyroid hormone, DNA synthesis, reproduction, protection from oxidative damage and infection, and so on.
Adding food rich in selenium such as cheddar cheese to your diet may help in reducing the risk of thyroid disorders.
(11) Promotes Skin Health
Cheese may help promotes skin health due to the presence of vitamin B complex in it. Vitamin B is known for helping with the metabolism and growth of the cells. It improves our skin healthy and also reduces the risk of skin blemishes.
Some variants of the cheese have antioxidants in them that protect our skin cells from the ill effects of the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals and thus help in keeping various signs of premature aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and dark spots, etc. at bay.
Side Effects Of Eating Cheese
Although cheese is an excellent source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids, etc., and provides numerous benefits, it is advisable to consume it in moderation. Also, if you are allergic to milk then you are very likely to be allergic to cheese, and in such a scenario, consumption of cheese should be avoided.
Some other side effects that may arise due to cheese are as follows:-
Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder in which our body is not able to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate (sugar) present in milk and other dairy products such as cheese. This is due to the absence of enzymes responsible for breaking down the lactose sugar in the body. If you are lactose intolerant then you should also avoid cheese as otherwise, it can give rise to problems such as abdominal gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
May Cause Allergies
The casein protein present in the milk is a slow-digesting protein that boosts muscle growth and also aids in recovery after exercise. However, some individuals are allergic to casein and other milk proteins and it causes inflammatory reactions throughout their body, and also gives rise to skin problems such as skin rashes, sinus congestion, and acne flares, etc.
Casein is also present in cheese. So, if you are allergic to milk and casein is one of the allergens, then you are highly likely to be allergic to cheese.
May Cause Drug Interactions
Cheese is not suitable for individuals who are taking antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors(MOI). This is because tyramine present in the aged cheese is known for interacting with the antidepressants negatively and may reduce the effectiveness of the drugs.
Dairy products such as cheese are loaded with essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and saturated fatty acids, etc. that provide numerous benefits as long as they are consumed in moderation. However, excessive intake of these compounds is bad for health and may increase the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, prostate cancer, and diabetes, etc.
Increased Risk of Migraines
Excessive intake of cheese is known for increasing the risk of migraines and headaches in some individuals due to the presence of tyramine in aged cheese.
Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body, which helps in regulating blood pressure.
However, in excess quantity, this amino acid can trigger headaches and migraines as it can cause blood pressure spikes in the body.
Different Types of Cheese
Cheese is available in hundreds of variants, but there are six common varieties. These are
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. In aged cheese, lactose gets completely converted to lactic acid which gives it a sour taste. Some variants of aged cheese are Parmesan cheese, Swiss cheese, and cheddar cheese.
Fresh cheese is the youngest form of cheese that tastes mild in taste and has a high level of moisture content. It has a soft texture. Some common examples of fresh cheese are cottage cheese, cream cheese, curd cheese, and farmer cheese.
Processed cheese has a consistent texture and melts very 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.
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.
Saturated fats are infamous for increasing the level of bad LDL cholesterol in the body, and thus increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems.
However, this mainly happens when it is consumed in excess quantity.
In moderation, saturated fats also provide several 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.
Non Dairy Cheese
Non-dairy cheese is suitable for people who are highly sensitive to lactose. These are highly processed cheese and doesn’t involve any dairy product in the production. Common examples of non-dairy cheese are- soy cheese and Daiya cheese.
Low Fat Cheese
Low-fat cheese has a hard and rubbery texture and is made from the 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I eat cheese every day?
Regular and moderate intake of cheese is good for us as it provides numerous benefits. However, excessive consumption should be avoided as it can lead to high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular problems.
Does cheese increase belly fat?
Cheese is an excellent source of fats and essential fatty acids that provides numerous benefits when consumed in moderation. However, excessive intake of cheese can increase belly fat and lead to weight gain.
Should I stop eating cheese to lose weight?
Cheese has a high-fat content and is best suited for underweight people who would like to gain some weight. So, if you are on a weight-loss routine, then it is better to keep cheese out of your food plate.
However, if you would still like to enjoy the deliciousness and benefits of the milk, then it is suggested to go for low-fat cheese such as cottage cheese.
Even then, you should consume it in moderation.
Can cheese clog your arteries?
Saturated fats present in the cheese is good for our health and is needed by our body for performing various functions.
However, an abundance of saturated fats can increase the level of bad LDL cholesterol in the body, which can lead to clogging of arteries due to the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in the inner lining of the arterial walls. This increases the risk of atherosclerosis which is a leading cause of various cardiovascular issues.
Which cheese is best for weight loss?
If you are on a weight loss journey and would like to get rid of some extra pounds, but still would like to enjoy cheese in your meal, then cottage cheese is the right choice as it has the lowest fat content in comparison to many other varieties of cheese.
But still, remember the golden words, “Moderation is the key”.
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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