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Eating Cheese the Healthy Way

Our beloved cheese is often criticized for its lack of nutritional value–in 2012, Neil Bernard, the president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, even called cheese “dairy crack,” stating that it was the largest cause of obesity in America.

But finally, we have confirmation of what we’ve believed all along: there is a way to consumer cheese healthfully! Heather Mangieri, MD, RD, CSSD, creator of NutritionCheckUp.com, says that cheese provides health benefits such as a source of protein — and can even fit into a weight-loss plan.

Even full-fat cheese can be beneficial to your diet; Mangieri recommends one ounce of full-fat cheese per day, while MyPlate guidelines advise three cups of low-fat dairy per day (including milk, yogurt, and other products.) We’ll happily meet those guidelines.

And if you think sacrificing a greasy pizza slice for a caprese sandwich is healthier, you’re in a for a surprise. That pizza “grease” is in the caprese salad, too:

“The cheese is just melting,” Mangieri says. “It doesn’t make it less healthy when it is cooked. When you are eating a piece of mozzarella [that hasn’t been melted] you are still eating the fat, you just can’t see it as easily.”

Mangieri contends that there is no “best” cheese — it all comes down to personal preference. Sometimes even processed cheese slices can have a good dose of protein. And while artisanal cheeses lack preservatives, they often contain a high amount of sodium. There is a lot of nutritional variety when it comes to different types of cheese, so be aware of the facts when it comes to your favorite. Better yet, do yourself a favor, and don’t skip the cheese on your next diet — or ever.

Photo Credit: Sheri L Giblin via Getty Images 

Erica Mixon

Erica Mixon is an editorial intern at Culture. Mixon is also the arts editor of Emerson College's student-run newspaper, the Berkeley Beacon, and editor in chief of an upcoming human resources blog, HRTalentManagement. While Erica is not editing or writing, she enjoys spending time in her hometown of Ogunquit, Maine.