Attention if you’re the type who just loves a juicy cheeseburger (or a cheesy Beyond Burger), cheese slices and crackers, or apples and cheese chunks, oh my! Did you know that there are best cheeses and worst cheeses, when it comes to the old waistline and heart health?
First, the good news. Cheese is an excellent source of calcium, fat, and casein protein, along with high amounts of vitamins A and B-12, along with zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Casein is a milk protein that is rich in amino acids is highly digestible. It also has ‘alpha’ casein, which boasts an abundance of benefits such as lowering blood pressure and increasing the absorption of minerals from the digestive tract.
But, as those of us who adore cheese know… it can also be quite fattening (and too much fat is not good for our hearts, either). According to Healthgrades.com, there is a sliding scale of which cheeses are good for you to cheeses that are bad for you. Here are two simplified lists.
Best Cheeses and Worst Cheeses
What makes a cheese fall into the “good” column are these keywords: Reduced Fat. Look for cheeses that cut calories and fat but are still cheese made from natural, organic sources. Feta, Goat Cheese, Ricotta, and Cottage Cheese are all great because they are full of vitamins and protein. But watch for sodium. It’s a tricky balance, but you don’t have to give up your favorite food. One trick is to look for the fewest ingredients on the label. These are among the best for you (in no particular order).
- Fat-Free or Reduced-Fat Cottage Cheese
- Reduced-Sodium Goat Cheese
- Part-Skim Mozzarella
- Reduced-Fat Cheddar
- Reduced-Fat Ricotta
“Bad” cheeses are pretty easy to spot—their labels have the most ingredients (many of which are totally unpronounceable), or they’re called things like “Cheese Food.” Many of them are brighter orange than a Cheeto under a heat-lamp. Did you know that a single slice of American Cheese contains ¼ of your daily recommended allowance of sodium? (We were shocked, too!) But not all bad cheeses are so cut-and-dried. Some truly delicious natural cheeses, like Brie and other super-soft cheeses like Camembert, contain far too much fat to be considered heart-healthy or waistline-friendly. These cheeses are among the worst (in no particular order).
- American Cheese Slices
- Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread
- Blue Cheese
- Full-Fat Cheddar
Wondering which cheeses are good for you? Check out our list of best cheeses and worst cheeses for your health — Who said anything about taste?