Cheese is essentially concentrated milk. It takes about 7 fluid ounces of milk to produce 1 ounce of cheese. That one ounce is packed with nutrients found in milk: protein, calcium, phosphorus and fat. During the cheese making process some of the lactose in milk is converted to lactic acid. People who have lactose intolerance can usually tolerate cheese.
Fat carries flavor and many people prefer the full fat cheeses. Most of the fat in cheese is saturated fat and contributes to a large amount of the saturated fat consumed in the American diet. Because of the higher fat content, especially the saturated fat, cheese consumption should be limited. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends limiting full fat cheeses to 2 ounces a week.
Food manufacturers have developed technologies to reduce the amount of fat in cheeses. The USDA has regulations defining the labeling for light, low fat, reduced fat, nonfat, and fat free. A cheese labeled low fat must contain no more than 3 grams per serving.
Enjoy your cheese but watch your portions. Eat it with fruits and/or vegetables to compliment the flavors, add nutritional value, and help control your calories by adding the volume of fruits and vegetables.
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD
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