At the HFR offices we usually have some sort of cheese around to boost brain power and keep morale up. But as advocates of healthy lifestyle we know that not all cheeses are created equal in terms of nutrition. True, too much cheese can lead to clogged arteries and bloated waistlines. Fried cheeses like the Czech Smažený sýr or Mozzarella sticks are particularly insidious for your heart. Luckily, plenty of cheeses are packed full of essential nutrients, ranging from calcium to protein, and contain reasonable amounts of fat, sodium, and calories. Eaten sparingly, the healthiest cheeses can be incorporated in a healthy diet!
- Feta Cheese
The lactose averse can find sanctuary in this goat’s cheese. Both Greek and Bulgarian feta are high in protein and low in calories (80 calories and 7g protein per 1oz), making them ideal choices for someone trying to slim down while lifting weights. A little goes a long way with feta, you only need a large spoonful of tangy crumbles to liven up a salad or sprinkle atop a main dish. It is high in sodium, so watch out for that.
- Neufchatel Cream Cheese
This creamy spreadable cheese is a great alternative to regular cream cheese. It has only 70 calories per 10z serving and lower fat levels as well.
- Parmigiano Reggiano
This hard cheese packs a powerful nutty flavor and is a favorite for grating over grilled vegetables and pasta dishes. It is typically made with skim milk, and therefore contains less fat than other hard cheeses. A little will go a long way to liven up your meal. Do keep in mind the high sodium content of parm.
- Fresh Mozzarella
Don’t settle for the pre-shredded stuff. It’s overly processed and full of preservatives like cellulose and calcium carbonate. On the other hand, a squishy block of fresh white mozzarella proves nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, D, and E. Tomatoes caprese is a great healthy high protein snack to make with mozzarella.
- Port du Salut
Trappist monks have been making Port du Salut cheese from cow’s milk since the 19th century. Hailing from Brittany, this semi-soft cheese is naturally low in sodium and a perfect option for those who are trying to cut back on sodium intake. Pair it with some fruit or a green salad drizzled in Balsamic.
- Cottage Cheese
This is one of those rare foods beloved both by people trying to slim down and bulk up. Low-fat cottage cheese is low cal, low fat, and high protein. We’re talking only 20 calories per ounce, but a respectable 3 grams of protein. Higher fat cottage cheeses have higher calories and protein, great for weight lifters.
- Emmentaler (Swiss Cheese)
Scientists have recently discovered why Swiss cheese has holes. Over the past couple decades, the iconic holes in the cheese started to close up, threatening the cheese’s natural marketing tool. Turns out the holes are tied to how clean the milk buckets are that makes the cheese; alps dirt is responsible for the holes. While this is a recent discovery, nutritionists have known about the health benefits of swiss for ages. It is low fat, low sodium, high protein and high calcium.
- Aged Extra Sharp Cheddar
The sharper the cheddar, the stronger the flavor, the less you need to liven up a meal. While it is high in fat, cheddar has practically no lactose and can be eaten just fine by the lactose intolerant. It also contains calcium, vitamin D and potassium and is good for bone health and preventing diabetes.
Soft ricotta cheese is made from whey instead of whole milk, so it is lower in fat. It is typically used to stuff pasta shells, but also pairs nicely with fresh berries. Choose ricotta if you are looking for an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and selenium.
This gooey offering from Normandy, France is soft and creamy yet low in fat. While it looks like it would be the fattest offering on the cheese board, it only has 80 calories per ounce, thanks to the fact it is 30% water.