As part of a nutrition consult one of the questions I ask clients is “what are your favorite foods?” Invariably many will state “I love cheese but I know I’m not supposed to eat it.” Cheese has a bad rap in America – too much fat, makes you constipated, only have the low fat kind. The list goes on and on.
For the record I love cheese and eat it almost daily. The more the better – fresh ricotta, Emmentaler, Gouda (especially goat Gouda) are some of my favorites. Where did America get the idea that cheese is a bad food? The French eat it every day and don’t have a problem with it.
In the 80’s it was widespread that one was to avoid fat at all costs to be healthy. As a result many low fat foods emerged on the market including many types of low fat or nonfat cheese. Unfortunately this left over mentality and altered food products have not gone away, perpetuating the idea that one is “sinning” if enjoying cheese.
Cheese contains fat and protein and calcium. Many need a dietary calcium source which cheese provides. Eating 2 ounces of cheese a day (2 nice sized chunks) can be a great snack along with a piece of fruit.
Cheese does contain saturated fat. However, studies show the real villain is trans fat, which increases heart disease by at least 35%. Trans fat is in processed packaged foods, a far cry from great cheese. Consuming 10% of your diet as saturated fat will not break your health bank and provides pleasure and satisfaction with your food.
In addition, if you choose European cheese or cheese that comes from grass-fed cows it contains higher levels of omega 3 fats which is good for your health.
If you like cheese, eat some daily. Have a reasonable portion and savor the taste of the real thing. Just like processed food, the low or nonfat cheeses have been altered in some way and in my opinion are not worth the bite. Having a little bit of France every day might not be such a bad thing.