“Hi Susie. How much cheese is a healthy amount to eat (on a weekly basis) and is there a particular brand that you could recommend for low fat and sodium? Thank you, Gail from NSW.”
Thank you for your question,
Unfortunately, there is no escaping the fact that even though it tastes so good, nor whether it is feta, cheddar, parmesan, ricotta or brie - it is cheese, and it is high in fat. Nutritionally, cheese has a number of positive qualities. Cheese is extremely high in protein as well as calcium and other key nutrients involved in bone development including magnesium and phosphorus. A single serve of cheese provides 8g of protein and more than 200mg of calcium, making it an extremely nutrient rich food choice.
The main issue is that regular cheese is 30-40% fat, meaning that it contains up to 10g of fat per 30g serve, a significant proportion of which is saturated fat. This is compared to “reduced fat” or “light” varieties of cheese which contain 25% less fat than the regular fat alternatives, leaving them with 5-6g of fat per serve or the “low fat”, somewhat rubbery varieties of cheddar which contain less than 3% fat. White cheeses including ricotta and cottage, but not including feta are also generally lower in fat, with ricotta cheese containing 13% fat or cottage cheese which has 5% fat.
So, when it comes to how much, the best option is to try and limit your intake of regular cheese to at most, a serving each day. Aim for no more than a 30g serve which will give you roughly 10g of fat and 3-5g of saturated fat. Choosing a reduced fat variety of cheese will also help to lower your intake of saturated fat, without losing too much flavour which occurs when you chose a “low fat” cheese.
While it does mean that you may need to limit your bries and full strength cheddar's to special occasions, it also means that you can enjoy the lower fat ricotta and cottage cheeses more regularly and you do not need to ever revert to the bland low-fat varieties of cheese, which really do not taste much like real cheese at all. And as is the case with many things in life, quality over quantity is a good mantra when it comes to enjoying your favourite cheese whether it is feta, brie or good old cheddar at which ever time of the day or night you enjoy it most.
When it comes to brands depending on the specific type they are all similar. One of my favourites is Jarlsberg Light and another good thing to know is that goats cheese is relatively low in fat compared to cheddar with just 18% fat and can be a tasty lighter alternative to regular cheese to add to crackers, salads and sandwiches
|Cheese Per 30g serve ||Total Fat ||Saturated fat|
|Reduced fat cheddar ||7g||5g|
*Ideally we should be aiming for no more than 40-60g of total fat each day, <15-20g of which should be saturated.