What is the Nutritional Value of Cheese?

Debra Durkee
Debra Durkee
Blue cheese is generally high in fat.
Blue cheese is generally high in fat.

When it is consumed in moderation, the nutritional value of cheese can outweigh negative aspects like a high fat and sodium content. Cheeses are generally high in calcium, which can help reduce the chance of developing osteoporosis. The high calcium content in cheese can also keep teeth strong and cavity-free.

As a dairy product, the nutritional value of cheese is similar to that of other dairy-based foods. High in calcium, it can be a healthy addition to the diet of growing children and women who are going through menopause. Calcium is needed for the development of strong bones, and a diet high in calcium can help keep women from developing osteoporosis. A similarly high calcium diet can also benefit pregnant women, as it will aid in the development of the baby.

Goat cheese.
Goat cheese.

In addition to calcium, cheese is also rich in potassium and phosphorus. Potassium is essential in maintaining the general health of the body because it helps regulate the balance of water. It is also crucial to the function of nerves and muscles. An important nutritional value of cheese also lies in the high levels of phosphorus. Phosphorus works together with calcium in reinforcing the structural integrity of bones, and is also vital in the repair of tissues and the storage and efficient use of energy.

Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
Cheese wheels aging on shelves.

Many cheeses are also high in protein, a necessary ingredient in the body's muscle-building processes. Once broken down by the body's digestive tract, proteins contained in cheese are converted into amino acids. These compounds help the body build muscle, strengthen the enamel on teeth, and beef up bones.

Cheese is also high in vitamin B12. This nutrient is a key ingredient in the body's ability to make red blood cells, as well as to replicate genetic material. The vitamin is crucial in the reproduction of red blood cells, and an anemic individual can greatly benefit from the nutritional value of cheese.

Cheese-making factory.
Cheese-making factory.

The exact numbers of the nutritional value of cheese differ among varieties. Cheeses such as mascarpone and blue cheese are high in fat, while others like ricotta, mozzarella, and Camembert have about half the fat and calories of other varieties. Many cheeses should not be eaten by those who are lactose-intolerant, but goat cheese is a lactose-free alternative. The nutritional value of cheese also depends on the type of milk used; milk from cows, goats, and sheep has different percentages of nutrients and vitamins.

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Discussion Comments

Rotergirl

@Pippinwhite -- You can also make a low-carb cheesecake. Since the sugar in cheesecake is strictly for sweetening and not texture or something like that, you can use artificial sweetener without sacrificing texture or taste. I've had a lot of luck in using just a touch of sugar and then Splenda in a cheesecake. I do a ground almond crust instead of graham cracker. You can even use cocoa to make a chocolate cheesecake. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Hooray for cream cheese in particular and cheese in general! Life is a lot easier for a diabetic when they can eat tasty foods that don't feel like they are deprivation.

Pippinwhite

Another great attribute of cheese is that it is low in carbohydrates, so diabetics can eat it as a healthy snack. One of the best ways to help combat "dawn phenomenon," or high blood glucose in the morning is to eat a high protein snack before bedtime, and a piece of cheese and a handful of nuts is a great snack to have.

I also love cream cheese because it's available in a lower-fat version, but because it's also low-carb, it's a great dessert when paired with fruit or something like that. Cheese is great.

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    • Blue cheese is generally high in fat.
      Blue cheese is generally high in fat.
    • Goat cheese.
      Goat cheese.
    • Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
      Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
    • Cheese-making factory.
      Cheese-making factory.
    • Slice of havarti cheese.
      Slice of havarti cheese.
    • Blocks of sharp cheddar cheese.
      Blocks of sharp cheddar cheese.
    • A bowl of bocconcini, small balls of fresh mozzarella.
      A bowl of bocconcini, small balls of fresh mozzarella.
    • Ricotta is a low fat cheese.
      Ricotta is a low fat cheese.