Cheese, Glorious cheese... What Are The Healthier Options
If your like me cheese is a core food. After all, I’m a Dairy Farmers daughter, so fresh milk and its by product has always been part of my diet. But over the years there has been questions about how healthy cheese is. Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, cheese is rather nutritious. Cheese is rich in calcium for strong bones and teeth, and provides protein to help build and maintain lean muscle mass. It’s also rich in a range of other micronutrients to keep your body working it’s best.
So, why is cheese still been questioned as healthy? Well, cheese can be seriously salty, which isn’t the best news for heart health and due to its high fat content, cheese can also contain a lot of kilojoules – so overtime, overdoing it on the Cheddar could contribute to an expanding waistline.
Apparently, a sensible portion of cheese is usually just 40 grams (not the entire wheel of Brie you that you miraculously polish off whilst zooming friends…) If you’re into soft cheeses like ricotta, you’ll be pleased to hear that the serve size jumps up to 120 grams, which equates to roughly half a cup.
So cheese platters may not be as naughty as you first thought!
So, what are the healthier cheeses?
When it comes to cheese with a lower sodium and fat content, some clear winners:
Reduced-fat ricotta cheese (per 100 grams): 279kJ (67cal), 6.8g protein, 2.8g fat (1.8g sat fat), 116mg sodium
Cottage cheese (per 100 grams): 398kJ (95cal), 12.5g protein, 2.5g fat (1.5g sat fat), 193mg sodium
Reduced-fat cream cheese (per 100 grams): 445kJ (106cal), 11g protein, 4.7g fat (3g sat fat), 320mg sodium
In case you’re wondering what are the not so healthy options:
Parmesan (per 100 grams): 1949kJ (466cal), 40.6g protein, 33.3g fat (21.1g sat fat), 1503mg sodium
Blue vein (per 100 grams): 1517kJ (363cal), 20.3g protein, 32.4g fat (20.7g sat fat), 1090mg sodium
Romano (per 100 grams): 1594kJ (381cal), 31.3g protein, 27.9g fat (17.6g sat fat), 1040mg sodium
Now if the healthier options doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t be disappointed I personally prefer the saltier, fattier or tastier cheeses too! Luckily, when it comes to saltier, fattier cheeses, a little goes a long way, so you don’t need a lot to be satisfied or to get your cheese fix.
What you pair with your cheeses can be a deal breaker. There are so many biscuit varieties to accompany your cheese and these can definitely complement your choice. But there’s no point in opting for a ‘healthier’ cheese – or settling on a small portion of a yummier one – only to dig in to less-than-ideal accompaniments. So choose wisely.
In terms of biscuits, you’re after a wholesome, grainy cracker that takes a bit of chewing. In comparison to a cracker that melts in your mouth, a denser variety will contain more fibre, which slows down your chewing and leaves you feeling more satisfied
If dips are on your party platter, it’s a wise idea to opt for veggie- or yoghurt-based varieties over creamy, cheesy ones. My go-to is the Yummies range they are dairy free and gluten free. Choosing a hummus, pumpkin and cashew or tzatziki, instead of spinach and feta or French onion, which can pack a tonne of unnecessary nasties.
Choose the right sides for your cheese platter.
Further to this if you like to add meats like prosciutto, salami and chorizo. Sorry to be a party pooper! Not only do these items add a stack of kilojoules, they are also high in fat, and sodium.
Last but not least, I always throw in some fresh veggies and seasonal fruit. Dried fruit in small portions every now and then is totally fine, but fresh is always best. Fresh fruit and veg are super low in energy, so you can fill up without breaking the kilojoule bank. Plus, they’ll add a whole lot of colour and make your platter look amazing!