Diet and Cheese - Can They Co-Exist?
Submitted by TReed on December 27, 2011.
Wondering what cheese to eat while on a low fat diet? Cheesei has a bad reputation: full of fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat.
Fortunately for those of us on a low fat diet there is no need to exclude this delicious and protein-packed food. There are many steps we can take to incorporate cheese into our meals without sacrificing our health!
The first step it to take a look at your diet as a whole. For whatever reason, many of us first think to cut our cheese consumption when beginning a diet. Although not a bad idea in some cases, it’s more important to carefully look at your diet as a whole. You can sprinkle some parmesan on top of your pasta to add tons of flavor and it won’t be near as fatty as globing peanut butter on your morning bagel or snacking on that granola bar that most of us falsely believe is a great diet snack!
The fact is, most cheeses have between 6 and 8 grams of fat per ounce, so they are rarely the largest contributor to a person’s daily fat consumption. Your much more likely to reduce your fat intake by cutting back on fried foods, cream-based foods and dressings as well as desserts, than foregoing an occasional slice of cheese. Even that skinless chicken thigh you might have for dinner contains more fat than does the average chuck of cheese you might enjoy with crackers or even a apple.
One reason why cheese has developed a bad rap is because it is often served with other very fatty foods. Those cheese nachos we like to devour while watching a game won’t do your low fat diet any good, but this is as much because of the fat content of the beef and the oil the tortillas were cooked in as it is because of the cheese.
Removing a cheddar slice from you slice of apple pie in an attempt to cut back on fat just doesn’t make sense when you would be better off keeping the cheese but cut your slice in half.
So, what to do? You can start by choosing your cheese wisely. In reality, there is variation in fat content found in different cheeses. If you’re like me, you would like as much cheese as possible in your diet but it is definitely beneficial to choose your cheese based at least partly on its fat content.
I’m sure you’re wondering what cheese contains the lowest fat. Generally the softer cheeses such as brie, ricotta, mozzarella, and camembert fall into the lowest fat category. Next, think chunky cheeses like my favorite, blue cheese or feta, which are commonly used to add a punch of flavor to a salad. Highest in fat you will find cream cheese, American, cheddars, and another favorite Monterey jack.
The key is to maximize your cheese impact when trying to reduce fat in your diet. Remember, a little bit goes a long way. Although you will find very little difference in fat content between mild and sharp cheddar there is a huge difference in the flavors strength. By using a more flavorful cheese you can use less of it thus cutting down on the fat. Another trick is to pair the cheese with certain flavors enhancing the taste and texture of the cheese. Consider the use of herbs such as dill, chives, and cilantro and your cheese will burst with a pop of flavor without adding fat or calories. Give up that mac n’ cheese you love so much and enjoy your cheese with some fresh fruit and a nice glass of wine.
So when trying to stick to a low fat diet, remember there are choices that don’t require you to give up one of the most versatile and delicious foods there is. After all, what good is a diet if you don’t stick with it? If cheese is a must have in your diet just enjoy it without overdoing it!
Many low fat cheeses such as the brie and blues can be found at