Heard too much about how fattening cheese is? Look at the French! Cheese is not just very delicious food, which has many different varieties, but also contributes to a balanced diet and brings a lot of health benefits to your plate. We are going to talk about cheese in general. It is up to you which type you choose. There are some more “fatty” cheeses like Cheddar and more lean ones like Ricotta. The differences are usually also in the salt content, maturity, additives, bacteria and most importantly – the type of milk it is made of. Depending on these factors the health benefits might vary though are mostly similar.
Cheese is essentially coagulated milk. It has been long known that milk is very beneficial although with age we tend to lose that habit of having a glass of milk every day. Also health and diet conscious people tend to choose skimmed milk which contains less of all that goodness. Cheese on the other hand has a high concentration of full fat milk and the substances in it. This allows us to consume smaller amounts of cheese but get much more benefits than 2 large glasses of milk.
Most recent global activity in the cheese production industry has been along the lines of “try to add even more nutritional benefits to this product”. As cheese is one of our favourite ready made foods, people in the industry have recognised the chance to boost our health. Fortifying cheese with probiotics though has not achieved much success. The responsible institutions declined health claims of probiotic cheese as it doesn’t add enough to beat the existing benefits of eating cheese. Fortifying with Omega-3 on other hand has been proven to work. More on Omega3 you can read in benefits of eating liver page.
However, one thing we have heard a lot about is the high content of Calcium in cheese. We have to admit that too much of anything is bad but if consumed in appropriate amounts cheese can boost your bone health. Osteoporosis has a major link to the lack of Calcium in diet and is a very common disease in elderly or people who have a low dairy diet. Although there are many products like orange juice or soya milk which have been fortified with Calcium, cheese provide a whole “package” of benefits for bones. Osteoporosis will be avoided also with the protein and vitamin from cheese.
Older cheese also has a much lower lactose content therefore people with lactose intolerance might accept cheese much more as a source of Calcium than milk. Thus, the health of teeth can be improved and tooth decay prevented by supplementing milk with cheese. Alongside phosphorus and protein, cheese might strengthen your enamel. Eating cheese also stimulates the production of saliva thus the acid eliminates sugars and bacteria in your mouth. The studies which have approved these benefits were made on cheddar, mozzarella, American and Swiss cheeses.
Tryptophan which is present in cheese has been claimed to improve sleep. It is a substance used as a dietary supplement and a drug there is lack of reliable clinical trials to take these benefits as facts. However the benefits also might include stress relief and mood improvements due to the production of serotonin in our body. Cheese most rich in tryptophan is cottage cheese (nutritional values up on the right).
Despite the claims of anti-fat diets that cheese makes you fat, in 2009 Curtin University of Technology approved that regular consumption of cheese contributes to the loss of fat in the body. Therefore cheese has the properties of preventing many illnesses related of being overweight. This doesn’t mean though that eating 1kg of cheese a day will make anyone slimmer. It just proves that cheese included in a diet will not harm you at all. On other hand cheese is a great product for treating malnutrition and underweight as it is rich with nutrients.
There is also a natural reason why especially women love cheese. It reduces the symptoms of PMS(including migraine) and enhances the contraction for giving birth. This is because Calcium is a major component of healthy nervous system. Therefore also athletes need to get appropriate amounts of it to enhance their performance.
Sodium Chloride commonly known as salt is also major component in cheese and is possibly the disadvantageous part of this product. Too much salt has been associated with cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol etc. Therefore if you consume cheese regularly, reduce the amount of other salty foods like other processed foods, cured meats, ready meals, sauces, crisps etc. Least salty cheeses are soft cheeses, mozzarella, ricotta, quark and cottage cheese.
Benefits of eating cheese:
- Enhances bone health
- Strengthens the teeth
- Contributes to a healthy growth
- Enhances muscle contraction
- Reduces headaches
- Contributes to mental health
- Prevents tooth decay
- Might contribute to weight loss
- Super-healthy weight-gainer