Wednesday Wonder: Cheese Please!

March 23, 2010

Q: Dear nutritioulicious™,

I love cheese, but it’s so high in fat and calories and fat-free and lower-fat versions have so much less flavor that they don’t satisfy my cheese cravings. Is it okay to eat regular cheese? It’s so delicious, I can’t go without it! — NY Cheese Lover

A: Dear NY Cheese Lover,

I love cheese too, so I hear you about the fat-free and low-fat varieties not always giving you the same flavor you get from full-fat cheese. However, not all low-fat cheeses are alike — some have more flavor than others. I recently tried BeemsterLite, a gourmet Dutch Gouda cheese that is full of flavor and has 33% less fat than classic Gouda cheese (not to mention less sodium too!). Even Andy loved it — he didn’t even know it was a low-fat cheese until I told him! Here’s a nutritional comparison of Beemster Classic and BeemsterLite (per ounce):

BeemsterLite Gouda Cheese

Beemster Classic: 138 calories, 11 g fat, 8 g sat fat, 8 g protein, 35 mg cholesterol, 313 mg sodium, 280 mg calcium
BeemsterLite: 90 calories, 6 g fat, 4.5 g sat fat, 9 g protein, 15 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 300 mg calcium

Generally speaking, cheese is a nutritious and delicious source of protein and calcium, but it is also high in saturated fat, which can increase risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, not to mention lead to weight gain. I recommend that my clients stick to small portions of cheese, but enjoy the kind they like — otherwise it’s a waste of calories.

If you can’t find a low-fat cheese you like, then keep enjoying the full-fat ones, but be more mindful when eating them and limit yourself to 1-1 1/2 ounces at a time (that’s at most the size of 3 small playing dice). And when it comes to cooking, skip the fat-free stuff — it doesn’t melt well.

Looking for more ways to enjoy cheese? Find recipes using Beemster Gouda cheese and two of my other favorites,  Coach Farm goat cheese (look for the reduced-fat log) and Jarlsberg Swiss cheese (look for the Lite).

*I was not paid to write about any of the products in the above post.

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  1. I also recently started grating cheese over salads, soups, and other foods. I find that it helps make a healthy serving of cheese go a much longer way than just eating it whole.