March 24, 2017

Can you eat cheese as part of a healthy diet?

When you’re striving to be the fittest and healthiest that you can possibly be, you’ll need to make a few sacrifices. As good as pizza, burgers, chocolates, alcohol and other tempting goodies might seem, consuming these can undermine an awful lot of time spent in the gym and get in the way of your progress.

That doesn’t mean that you have to deny yourself anything that is fun or tasty. Indeed, on this blog we’ve discussed plenty of positive ways in which you can achieve the balanced diet you need for your active lifestyle.

But what about cheese? That’s guaranteed to make anyone on a diet have a sharp intake of breath. Cheese is completely off limits, right?

Well, perhaps not. Let’s test that old ‘anything in moderation’ maxim and see if we can find a way for you to fulfill your cheese cravings.

Cheese nutrition facts

The main reason that people avoid cheese is because of the high level of fat – and this is a factor that will stop you from tucking into a cheese board for dessert after your main meal every night.

However, it isn’t just made up of fat – there’s also plenty of protein in cheese too. While every type of cheese has a slightly different nutritional makeup, it’s probably helpful to think that 100g of cheddar contains about 25g of protein. That means a slice of this will contain almost 7g of protein – the same as a glass of milk.

The proteins in cheese are rich in essential amino acids and easy to digest so there is good to be had here. We’re all for finding a variety of ways to find the protein you need in your diet after all.

When it comes to the downside, with fat, you need to choose wisely. A low fat cottage cheese is at completely the other end of the fat spectrum to a cream cheese, for example. The difference between both ends of the scale can be as much as 20g of saturated fat per 100g.

There’s only a small amount of carbs in your piece of cheese and it’s likely to contain a number of vitamins and minerals from calcium, zinc and sodium to vitamins A, B12 and K2.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Cheese isn’t the healthiest food on the market – it’s certainly not a superfood like these – but it isn’t all bad.

Healthy cheese choices

The problem with cheese is that it is often combined with other food that is bad for you – greasy burgers, pizzas, etc. The trick, therefore, is to consume the right amount in the right circumstances.

Here are seven ideas to try:

  • Spread mascarpone on your toast instead of butter. It’s tasty and has 40 fewer calories per teaspoon than butter.
  • Use low fat cottage cheese as a dip. This can easily act as a substitute for your houmous fix – and contains roughly the same amount of protein.
  • Make your own pizza. We recommend trying this little beauty – which has a base made from cauliflower and pesto.
  • Sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top of a healthy risotto to add a sharp finishing touch to your meal. This one has plenty of green veg in it too.
  • Try a bit of manchego in these kale stuffed mushrooms – they look and taste too good to be healthy.
  • Measure your portions carefully for the occasional ‘skinny’ cheese board
  • Non-fat milk and low fat cheese can be used to deliver a guilt-free mac n cheese. Try out this recipe.

You don’t have to eliminate all thoughts of cheese from your mind when living a healthy life. Use the right cheese in the right way and you’ll appreciate it even more as a treat – and still look great when you hit the gym.

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