High-fat foods are usually the first to go when someone is trying to lose weight, which means dieters think cheese should be the first thing thrown out. However, foods that are high in fat and that also contain protein and fiber keep you feeling fuller for longer, thereby reducing the temptation to snack.
Cheese fuels the body with protein, which builds and repairs tissue, something that’s particularly needed after working out. It also contains calcium, which is essential to building strong bones and teeth, helps muscles to move, and keeps nerves functioning to send messages between the brain and the body.
The key to enjoying cheese while on a weight loss regime is to make sensible choices. Limit portion sizes if you go full fat, or pick reduced-fat options instead such as mozzarella or cottage cheese, since semi-soft cheeses have fewer calories than hard cheeses.
Protein from cheese can help weight loss by keeping blood sugar balanced, and halting that hunger crash. It’s also important to remember that cheese can be high in salt – there can be more in a portion than a bag of potato chips. So read the labels before you make that sandwich, keeping a particularly close eye on halloumi, feta, and single cheese slices.
Cheese is bursting with vitamin A, which keeps the immune system strong and helps with vision in the dark. It also contains potassium – one of the most important minerals in the body that balances fluid, muscle contractions, and can protect against stroke, kidney stones, and osteoporosis. You’ll also find vitamin B12 in cheese, essential for making normal red blood cells and keeping nerves healthy.
What to watch out for? Cheese produces casomorphins as it digests; an opiate from the casein protein, which can send comfort signals to the brain, and in turn make you want to reach for more. If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure then you should eat cheese sparingly.
And if on a diet, like with many other foods, be sensible about how much you’re putting on your plate.