CHEESE : Facts, Types and Benefits

Cheese is a dairy product derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavors, textures and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It comprises of proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goat, or sheep.

During production,  the milk is usually acidified, and adding the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into the final shape. Some cheeses have molds on the outer layer or throughout, and most cheeses melt at cooking temperature.

Cheese has grown in popularity in the different countries around the world in the last 50 years. Statistics shows that consumption tripled from 1970 to 2009. Some people avoid daily cheese due to milk allergy or lactose intolerance, because they are on a weight- loss diet, or as part of a vegan diet. Cheese offers a number of health benefits and a healthful choice depends on the individual and the type and amount of cheese consumed.

FACTS

Cheese is a good source of calcium, a key nutrient of healing and maintain normal blood pressure. Men and women aged 19 to 50 years should consume 1000mg of calcium a day and  one ounce of cheddar cheese provides 20 percent of this daily requirements. However, cheese can also be high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. The breakdown of macronutrients in any cheese can vary widely depending on the type.

One ounce (28g)  brand of cheddar cream cheese spread contains:

  • 80 calories
  • 7g of fat, including 5g of saturated fatty acids
  • 1g of carbohydrate
  • 7g of protein
  • 150 milligrams(mg) of calcium
  • 750 international units (IU) of vitamin A
  • 15mg of cholesterol
  • 380mg of sodium

TYPES

Cheese is a standard accompaniment to popular foods like burgers, pizza, Mexican dishes, salad and sandwiches ranging from mild to mature in flavor, and low to high fat in composition. It can be made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats and other animals. Examples include the following:

  • Whole – milk cheese
  • Low –fat or reduced fat
  • Fresh cheeses
  • Aged or mature cheese
  • Processed cheese and
  • Non –dairy cheese.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHEESE

Dairy products are one of the best dietary source of calcium and other nutrients. Here are some of the ways in which cheese can be healthful.

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Bone Health

The calcium, protein, magnesium, Zinc, and vitamins A, D, and K content means it can contribute to healthy bone development in children and young adults, and to osteoporosis prevention.  Some theories have proposed that eating dairy products leads to higher acid levels in the body, and that this can destroy rather than encourage healthy bones. However scientific evidence does not support this view.

Dental health

Cheese can enhance dental health. Calcium plays an important role in tooth formation, and cheese is a good source of calcium. In addition, at least one study has shown that eating cheese can raise the pH level in dental plaque, offering protection against dental cavities. Milk and sugar free yogurt appear not to have the same effect.

Gut bacteria and Cholesterol

As a fermented food, it may help boost healthy gut bacteria. This could have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels, according to a small study published in 2015.

Healthy Cells

Cell needs protein for building and repair. One ounce of cheddar can offer 7g of protein. The amount of protein recommended per each person depends on their age, size and activity level.

Omega -3 Fatty Acids

These have been found in some types, and especially those made from milk produced by cows that eat Alpine grasses. Omega -3 fatty acids are believed to benefit the cardiovascular system and the brain.

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CHEESE CONSUMPTION

A diet high in sodium and saturated fat is likely to increase, the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The 2015 report of the dietary guidelines advisory committee (DGAC) recommend limiting fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of daily calories and saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories. This means that someone following an 1800- calorie diet should consume less than 18mg  per day of saturated fat. A high intake of saturated fat can increase the risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems.

Also, a person with a lactose intolerance lacks the enzymes needed to break down and digest the sugar found in milk. Consuming milk and dairy products may result in bloating, flatulence or diarrhea.

NOTE: Cheese can be a valuable source of allergy, but it should be chosen with care and consumed moderately. A registered dietitian can advise you on whether to consume milk or dairy products and if so which ones you should take.

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