My obsession with cheese started before I could even speak. My parents would always take me to Italian restaurants and I would eat grated cheese the entire meal. I did that so often that the waiters at the restaurant even nicknamed me “The Cheese Baby.” In high school, I considered joining student government so I could try to get string cheese added to the snack bar in the school cafeteria. I’m committed…to cheese.
Let’s face it: cheese is everywhere. I mean, people are even told to say cheese in order to get them to smile before taking a picture.
Although cheese has a bad reputation for being high in calories and fat, in moderation it’s actually a great source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D that benefit your health. Despite cheese’s rep, it’s the number two source of calcium in the average American’s diet. So, if you’re like me and need your fair share of cheese to survive the day, check out these 6 healthier cheeses that you can incorporate into your snacks or meals.
1. Feta Cheese
This Mediterranean cheese has only 74 calories an ounce and 4 grams of protein. Feta is a crumbly cheese that has a strong flavor, so you can get away with eating less of it. It’s also made from goat milk, so it’s a great choice for people who are sensitive to lactose. You can put it on salads, soups, sweet potatoes, muffins and even watermelon.
2. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese has about 13 grams of protein in just half a cup, and is only 20 calories per ounce. It is also high in calcium and phosphorus, which contribute to the health of your bones. Cottage cheese also contains casein protein, which promotes muscle recovery. You can find almost any type of cottage cheese whether it’s non-fat, low fat, or just regular cottage cheese.
While it’s naturally one of the lowest sodium cheeses, sometimes when purchasing a non-fat or low fat brand of cottage cheese there is added sodium, so make sure to check the label on the package. This cheese is great in veggie dip, pasta, and many other things.
3. Ricotta Cheese
This cheese has a similar texture to cottage cheese, but it’s lighter and contains 14 grams of protein and 25% of your daily calcium needs in only half a cup. Ricotta cheese is also low in sodium, high in phosphorus, vitamins A and B and zinc. Ricotta cheese tastes great in crostinis, toast, and even cookies.
This cheese is the French equivalent of cream cheese, but only has one third of the fat. It might not be the easiest cheese to find, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great alternative to cream cheese that can you can put on a bagel or in frostings and dips.
5. Parmesan Cheese
Although half a cup of Parmesan cheese is 216 calories, it contains umami, which according to a study in 2015, makes low-fat foods taste better and possibly improves digestion and gut health. Half a cup of this cheese also has 19 grams of protein, but it’s high in sodium, so the key to Parmesan is moderation.
6. String Cheese
Even though I will eat cheese that comes in any shape or size, my favorite form is definitely stringed. Part skim mozzarella string cheese is low in calories (71 per stick) and has 7 grams of protein. My favorite part about string cheese is that it is already portioned out for you, so you really don’t even need to exert energy in order to prepare this wonderful snack. But if you have a lot of energy and are trying to get creative with your cheese, try using string cheese in these awesome snacks and dishes.