Let’s face it, most of us love cheese. It’s a great tasting ingredient that can liven up most meals. But being a health conscious eater means knowing which cheeses are good and which are not so good for you. Here’s a brief rundown of which queso to avoid and which you can indulge in without too much guilt.
The Healthy Cheeses
These low-fat, low-sodium cheeses taste good and are considered to be better for your health by most health experts:
- Feta. A smart choice for health conscious cheese aficionados, this soft, white cheese is made from ewe and goat milk, so it’s ideal for lactose-sensitive eaters. Salty chunks can be soaked in cold water or milk to reduce the sodium content.
- Italian Ricotta. Made from whey instead of whole milk, this cheese is naturally low in fat (about 5 percent). Firm, moist and a bit grainy, Ricotta is the sweet cheese you love on bagels and crackers, or with fresh fruit.
- Cottage Cheese. Athletes and fitness gurus love this cheese. It’s not only low in fat (for weight conscious snackers), but it’s loaded with casein protein for adding muscle bulk. One caveat: cottage cheese is high in sodium, so look for low-sodium brands.
- Gouda. Made from cow milk, this creamy yellow Dutch cheese is sweet and nutty. Look for Goudas made from partly skim milk to cut down on the fat content. Lactose sensitive eaters should stick to Goudas that have been aged at least a year.
The Unhealthy Cheeses
These cheeses are on the bad end of the high-fat, high sodium spectrum.
- Goat Cheese and Blue Cheese. A single ounce of semi-soft goat cheese contains 6 grams of saturated fat or nearly 30% of the daily recommended value.
- American, Roquefort and Parmesan. These processed cheeses are high in sodium. A single ounce of Roquefort cheese has over about 500 mg of sodium (more than one-third of the recommended average daily allowance). Incidentally, most American cheeses aren’t even cheeses but “cheese products,” since they contain all kinds of additivesólike whey, emulsifiers and preservatives. They’re also high in saturated fat.