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Cheese is a food that, although it provides important nutrients such as protein and calcium, and some fermented types contain probiotics, health experts recommend consuming it in moderation.
Excessive consumption of cheese can have a negative effect on health. Some cheeses are not such good choices for your heart.
Saturated fat and sodium
Whole milk products contain a large amount of saturated fat. The Harvard Nutrition Source explains that cheese is also often high in sodium since salt is a key ingredient to retain moisture and prevent excessive growth of bacteria.
Saturated fats like those in cheese raise total cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic notes that reducing your intake of saturated fat can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.
Harvard notes that most cheeses are high in sodium with 300-450 mg per serving.
Excess sodium is linked to negative health effects, including increased blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The American Heart Association recommends that people with high blood pressure have an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
Worst cheeses for your heart
Dietitian Lauren Manaker, author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook, tells Eat This Not That that cream cheese is the worst cheese for your heart.
Cream cheese is high in saturated fat. “On average, in 2 tablespoons, cream cheese contains 87% fat of its calories. Its total fat is 10 grams… 5.9% is saturated fat, which is 30% of the daily value,” says Manaker.
Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding processed and hard cheeses (American, Cheddar, Muenster) and cheese spreads; cottage cheese; and buttermilk. He suggests opting for naturally low-sodium cheeses (Swiss, goat, brick, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella). If you choose cream cheese, go for the light and skim version.
Harvard notes that some cheeses like goat, whole milk mozzarella and Swiss are low in sodium with only 50-100mg per serving.
How to consume cheese
Cheese can be part of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation and carefully with what you eat.
“The key is how you eat. Eating cheese with foods like refined grains (white pasta, bread, crackers, etc.) and processed meats can negate its health benefits. Secondly, may provide health benefits when consumed as a replacement for red and processed meats or eaten as a snack instead of potato chips,” explains the Harvard Nutrition Source.
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