Say ‘CHEESE’ and your lips go wide with a smile. This sounds remarkable for a candid photoshoot or a picture-perfect moment captured on the camera. How about experiencing the same happiness and joy even while consuming this dairy product that has turned out to be the No.1 favorite of a lot many people worldwide? The process of cheese making is thousands of years old though we really don’t know until now the makers of the first cheese. It is believed to have originated when an Arabian merchant accidentally put milk into a pouch while travelling through the desert under the scorching sun. To his amazement, during the night he found that the milk had turned into whey and cheese. It was only from Asia that the art of cheesemaking spread to Europe which now exists as the dairy capital of the world producing some of the finest dairy products available to mankind.
To the common man, cheese exists in the form of small cubes or slices that can be readily used in breads but to a gourmet the options are versatile. A look at a classy buffet spread enlightens your knowledge on the ample cheese varieties available making one wonder whether all of which are cheese after all! Everything from the famous Cheddar and Leicester to the Stilton and camembert has its own unique and characteristic taste and flavor. One also needs to remember that to enjoy a taste of every slice of cheese displayed it is essential to choose the perfect slicing method. For instance, Cheddar must be cut into neat little cubes, a hard cheese like waxed truckle must be cut into wedge shapes to enable the person to enjoy all the distinguishing flavors that this variety has to offer and a delicate variety such as the camembert must be cut into equal quarters before cutting each quarter into half for an exhilarating cheese-tasting experience!
Of course, reading about these many varieties does indeed makes us all salivate but here comes the main issue-is cheese really bad for health or being a dairy product, does it impart good health on the consume when taken in limited quantities?
Easing Health Effects of the Cheese
Any milk or dairy product prevails as the top-most source of saturated fat that can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. There are even reports on the increased risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. But we also find recommendation on consuming small portions of cheese every day, especially kids. Presently, eating cheese is more of an indulgence in tasty food rather than a regular part of a healthy diet though 2-3 servings of dairy consumption daily is recommended for good health. To fulfill this however, we have moved far away from simply stopping with milk and curd but moved towards creamier dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and likewise. Data pooled from three long-term Harvard research studies found that researchers did not find dairy intimidating to heart health when compared with the same amount of calories from carbohydrates but at the same time, replacing 5% of calories from dairy fat with unsaturated fat from other sources was linked to a 24% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
We also have data suggesting that when people eat a little bit of cheese every day they are less likely to develop heart disease or suffer from stroke in comparison to those who never or rarely ate it. As suggested previously, cheese, like any other dairy product contains high levels of saturated fat that’s linked to increased risk of cholesterol, atherosclerosis and heart disease. But, cheese also contains abundant calcium, proteins and probiotics that are good for body health. The probiotics decreases the chances of inflammation, the conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) increases the rate of HDL (good cholesterol) while decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol) and the nutrients present add good health.
Even a study on elderly people all of whom were devoid of any cardiovascular disease found that those people with a higher recorded level of fatty acids in their blood had a 42% lesser risk of dying from stroke. Besides this, one type of fatty acid in dairy even lowers the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
This doesn’t mean that you go about overloading your tummy with cheese-burst pizzas or cheesy au gratin! Portion control is very mush essential to maintain the goodness of the food product. Enjoy a small piece of cheese as a snack with your whole-grain crackers, fruit or as a salad topping too. But again, the fat content also depends on the type of cheese that is chosen. More fat implies more calories! Cottage cheese is the best as it has the least amount of fat with 1 gram per 28 grams, ricotta has 4 grams per 28 grams, feta/mozzarella have 6 grams per 28 grams while Parmesan, Swiss and cheddar cheese have 7,8 or 9 grams of fat every 28 grams. Limiting portions is also essential to reduce sodium intake as some cheese have as much as 260 milligrams for every 28-gram serving.
The underlying message is to enjoy cheese and be at ease with it but the only concern is to limit portion sizes and stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet with regular physical activity to stay fit.
How to Properly Slice Cheese? https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas/food-drink/how-slice-cheese-good-housekeeping-institute-different-types-a8133551.html
Is Cheese Healthy? https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/25/health/cheese-healthy-food-drayer/index.html
Eat Cheese, Eggs And Full-fat Milk but Limit Meat: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/21/eat-cheese-and-drink-full-fat-milk-but-limit-meat-says-heart-foundation
Eating Cheese Everyday May Actually be Good for You: https://time.com/5048478/health-benefits-eating-cheese/
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.