There are more than 300 different cheeses in the U.S. Which type of cheese is right for you?
Can Cheese Be Part of Healthy Eating Patterns?
For centuries, cheese has been a part of our diets. While we have always found cheese to be tasty, filling, versatile and portable, it is also an excellent source of nutrients. With over 300 varieties of cheese in the US, how do you know which type is right for you?
How soon can kids have cheese?
The current Dietary Guidelines includes introducing cheese as early as 6 months of age when your child is showing signs that they are developmentally-ready. As you move from pureed to more solid food, small curd cottage cheese is a perfect starter.
For those with lactose intolerance, cheese can be an important source of calcium. Natural cheeses like Cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella and Swiss contain minimal amounts of lactose because most of the lactose is removed when the curds are separated from the whey in the cheesemaking process.
Watching the Amount of Fat in Your Diet?
Cheeses like Parmesan, Romano (grated) or part-skim mozzarella are naturally lower in fat. You can also try low fat options like cottage cheese, ricotta, Cheddar, Swiss, parmesan, colby, muenster, provolone, Mexican blend or American (process). In fact, research shows health benefits from eating dairy foods like cheese may reduce the incidence of stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Good news — most dairy foods are naturally gluten free! While natural cheeses are typically gluten-free unless they have added flavors or ingredients, be sure to check the ingredient list on the food label.
Looking for More Protein?
Swiss, cottage cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, Monterey jack, Cheddar, gouda, colby, port de salut, provolone, Mexican blend or muenster are all high in protein. Cheeses like these contribute high-quality protein as well as nutrients like calcium to the American diet.
Trying to Lower Your Sodium Intake?
Choose cheese based on firmness and age. In general, softer, less-aged cheeses require less salt than harder, aged cheeses. Salt is a vital part of the cheesemaking process, as it controls moisture, texture, taste, functionality and food safety. So, salt cannot be completely eliminated, but cheeses like Swiss, Monterey Jack, ricotta or Parmesan are naturally lower in sodium.
Trying to Get Your Recommended Three Daily Servings of Dairy?
A serving size of cheese is 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese or about four dice-sized cubes. MyPlate recommends getting your daily dairy from milk, cheese and yogurt help to improve your overall diet, get more nutrients and improve bone health.