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What is the healthiest cheese? Here are some low-sodium, low-calorie, and low-fat options
While the internet is remains agog over the new viral 'Butter Board' trend, snack board purists will remember the blueprint: the charcuterie board. Choc full of cheese, crackers, and occasionally a marmalade and some dark chocolate, the boards are a hallmark of book clubs and housewarmings alike.
While they certainly bring in an air of elegance, a charcuterie board's contents can be awfully rich. If you're on a health journey or looking to offer guests something a little lighter, there's no need to ditch the board entirely.
There are plenty of healthy cheeses that still offer robust flavor. Here's everything you need to know about choosing a low-calorie, low-fat, or low-sodium cheese.
What is the healthiest cheese?
Chelsey Amer, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, shared with USA TODAY that this is not a question with a direct answer. Amer is an MS, RDN, CDN, and the owner of Chelsey Amer Nutrition
"As a dietitian who focuses on a healthy relationship with food, there truly isn't one 'healthiest' cheese," she wrote in an email. Amer said her go-to recommendation is cottage cheese because it's high in protein and filling fat. And it's a great low-sodium option.
Amer also recommends ricotta cheese and mozzarella as great low-sodium, high-protein options.
Is cheese good for you?
A subjective question, for sure. Everything in moderation. While cheese has some health benefits it can also prove unhealthy in excess.
Depending on your dietary restrictions here are some healthy options provided by Amer:
- Mozzarella cheese is rich in protein and low sodium.
- Cottage cheese is low in fat, but higher in sodium.
- Ricotta cheese is also lower in fat, but higher in sodium.
- Feta cheese is low in calories but also lower in protein and higher in sodium.
- Goat cheese is also low-calorie but higher sodium and not super protein rich.
"Most cheeses are within a slim margin of each other when it comes to protein, sodium, and fat content" Amer said. "So prioritize flavor and satisfaction because a little bit can go a long way."
Does cheese have protein?
Yes. "All cheese contains protein as it's made from milk, however, not all cheese is considered equal when it comes to its protein content," Amer says.
Cottage cheese ranks high on that list, with approximately 13 grams of protein per 100 calorie serving, Amer said. Other "cheese board" cheeses, like mozzarella, gouda, feta, or goat cheese, contain only about 4-8 grams of protein for each 100 calorie serving.
Which cheese is anti-inflammatory?
Despite commonly held beliefs cheese, and dairy on the large, is not inherently inflammatory, Amer said.
Because of this, no cheese is actually "anti-inflammatory" in Amer's book. She recommends the best way to approach anti-inflammatory eating is to instead keep an overall a healthy diet overall meaning a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, and dairy (including cheese.)
What are the least processed cheeses?
Amer stresses that all cheeses are processed because a draining and curdling process is required when making it. There are, of course, some cheeses which are more processed than others. These are some minimally processed options:
- Ricotta cheese
- Goat cheese
- Feta cheese
- Cottage cheese
What is the healthiest cheese for a sandwich?
When you're at that deli counter and not sure what to choose, fresh mozzarella might be your healthiest option, Amer advises.
Mozzarella is rich in both protein and calcium and it is also lower in sodium than many other cheeses, Amer explains.
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