“Cheese is good for your health! It’s rich in calcium and vitamin B12,” says the cheesemonger.
True, and he’s missing a critical point.
“What about the protein in cheese?”
One overlooked fact is that the cheese protein amount is higher than you think. This makes cheese a good source of protein too, other than legumes, grains, vegetables, and soy.
And, here’s another fact.
There are healthy cheeses and bad cheeses.
The healthy cheeses contain a high amount of protein per ounce and they are an excellent addition to your diet.
What you need is to know which cheese is good for you.
Is Cheese A Good Source Of Protein?
Most of us would agree that cheese is a good source of calcium because it’s made of milk.
This raises the question, “Does cheese have protein?”
Let’s see what the nutritional data tells us about protein in cottage cheese.
Take cottage cheese, for example. A cup of cottage cheese (145g, 5oz) gives us,
- Calories: 104
- Protein: 15g
- Fat: 0.4g
- Carbs: 9.7g
- Fiber: 0g
- Calcium: 125mg
- Sodium: 539mg
That’s a lot of cheese protein!
Here’s one more thing you need to know.
Not all cheeses have the same nutritional data. The protein in cheese can be drastically different, depending on the type of cheese.
Some cheeses are high in fat and calories, which you need to take a holiday from if you’re on a health transformation journey.
Is cheese a fat or protein?
Is cheese protein? Or is it fat?
It’s impossible to categorize a whole food like cheese as one nutrient because cheese contains a ton of macronutrients and micronutrients such as fat, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.
As you’ll see below, most cheeses contain both protein and fat at different ratios.
Which Cheese Is High In Protein?
While cheese is widely known for its calcium, the protein in cheese is too often underappreciated.
Protein plays many critical roles in our bodies. They build, strengthen, and repair cells such as antibodies, enzymes, structural components, and transport.
What’s more, the cheese protein is derived from milk protein, which is a ‘complete’ protein — that contains all 9 essential amino acids.
These 6 types of cheese are carefully selected based on the cheese protein amount, calories, calcium, sodium, and other nutrients — making them the healthiest cheeses.
1. Swiss cheese
This semi-hard group of cheese originated from Switzerland. It has a mild, sweet, and nutty taste.
Its distinctive holes (called “eyes”) were made from a trio of bacteria mixed with cow’s milk. These bacteria work with your body’s immune system and make swiss cheese tastes so good.
One ounce (28g) of swiss cheese contains:
- Calories: 111
- Protein: 7.64g
- Fat: 8.79g (which includes 5.17g of saturated fat)
- Carbs: 0.4g
- Sugar: 0g
- Calcium: 252mg
- Cholesterol: 26.4mg
- Sodium: 53mg
If you’re on a low sodium diet, swiss cheese is the way to go. It has low sodium content, yet is loaded with cheese protein and calcium.
What’s more, research published in the Journal of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition shows that swiss cheese contains peptides that can inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) — compounds that narrow blood veins and arteries which may cause blood pressure and other health problems.
Swiss cheese has the lowest sodium and highest protein in cheese per ounce. It also contains ACE inhibitors that may help in lowering blood pressure.
A highly-prized Italian Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) food initially made from buffalo’s milk (cow’s milk is used now). It is a semi-soft, white cheese. Thanks to its low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium content, and the delicious milky flavor, mozzarella tops the American favorite cheese list.
Each ounce of mozzarella (28g) cheese contains,
- Energy: 83.6 calories
- Protein: 6.73g
- Fat: 5.61g (which includes 3.2g of saturated fat)
- Carbohydrates: 1.58g
- Sugar: 0.54g
- Calcium: 198mg
- Cholesterol: 18.1mg
- Sodium: 189mg
One surprising fact about mozzarella is its high-phosphorus content. An ounce alone contains 155mg of phosphorus!
Phosphorus is essential in bone and teeth formation and makes protein for cell growth, maintenance, and repair.
Mozzarella is one of the healthiest cheese (and most popular) that has high amount of protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Thankfully, it has low calories and fat.
3. Blue cheese
Have you seen a piece of cheese with blue or grey veins with a strong smell? That’s a type of blue cheese. The kind of cheese that either you love or hate it.
Blue cheese is a generic term used for cheeses made from cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk, ripened with a mold called Penicillium roqueforti, the cause of distinct dark-colored vein formation.
“Why is blue cheese a healthy cheese?”
Besides having low calories, low in fat, high in protein and calcium, blue cheeses may have anti-inflammatory properties.
One ounce (28g) of blue cheese contains:
- Calories: 100
- Protein: 6.07g
- Fat: 8.15g (which includes 5.29g of saturated fat)
- Carbs: 0.67g
- Sugar: 0.14g
- Calcium: 150mg
- Cholesterol: 21.3mg
- Sodium: 325mg
According to a group of doctors at a Cambridge-based biotech company, found that blue cheeses may have anti-inflammatory properties and may even be more favorable to cardiovascular health.
Despite its strong odor and salty, tangy flavor, blue cheese has low calories, low in fat, high in protein and calcium. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Goat cheese
Goat cheese, also known as chèvre (pronounced as shev-ruh), refers to any cheese made from goat’s milk. It is manufactured into many shapes: cone, wheel, disc, brie-like, and many textures from creamy to semi-firm.
One ounce (28g) of soft goat cheese contains,
- Calories: 74.8
- Protein: 5.25g
- Fat: 6g (which includes 4.13g of saturated fat)
- Carbs: 0g
- Sugar: 0g
- Calcium: 39.7mg
- Cholesterol: 13mg
- Sodium: 130mg
There’s a host of benefits of goat’s milk, including:
- Goat’s milk has as many nutrients similar to human milk and less alpha-casein-1 (α-s1), which is responsible for some allergies to cow’s milk.
- Goat’s milk contains more essential fatty acids (linoleic and arachidonic) that act as a quick source of energy and are not stored as body fat.
- Also, goat’s milk reduces the overall cholesterol level.
Goat cheese is high in protein, low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. Its nutrients are similar to human milk, acts as a quick source of energy and reduces overall cholesterol levels.
5. Feta cheese
Feta, which means ‘slice’ in Greek (φέτα), is a soft white cheese that originated from Greece. It is often cured in a salty brine and aged for a long time. It is typically made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep and goat’s milk.
Sheep’s feta usually tastes sharp and tangy, while goat’s feta is milder.
In 2005, the Commission of the European Communities named classified feta cheese as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for Greece — it can only be called a ‘feta’ cheese if it’s made in Greece.
One ounce of feta cheese contains:
- Calories: 15.7
- Protein: 4.03g
- Fat: 6.09g (which includes 3.77g of saturated fat)
- Carbs: 1.1g
- Sugar: 0g
- Calcium: 140mg
- Cholesterol: 25.2mg
- Sodium: 323mg
By far, feta contains the least calories per ounce. Even better, feta’s nutritional profile is impressive. It is packed with phosphorus, vitamin Bs, selenium, zinc, vitamin A and K, folate, iron, magnesium and more.
One fun fact about feta: 70% of cheese consumed in Greece is feta cheese. The Greeks sure do love feta cheese!
6. Cottage cheese
One of the fresh cheeses that have been a favorite among athletes and dieters for good reasons.
Despite the low cottage cheese protein amount, it’s also relatively low in fat and calories, high in calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin A.
One ounce (28g) of cottage cheese contains:
- Calories: 40
- Protein: 2.94g
- Fat: 2.74g (which includes 1.45g of saturated fat)
- Carbs: 0.9g
- Sugar: 0.7g
- Calcium: 21.8mg
- Cholesterol: 8.7mg
- Sodium: 96mg
The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in feta cheese (and other greek cheeses) may help to manage blood pressure and obesity.
A study on dietary habits has shown that cottage cheese, along with other whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and vegetable oils, helped 30 men and 30 women lose, on average, 1.4-3.2kg in men and 2.8-7.1kg in women.
Although the protein in cottage cheese is lower than others, its low-fat, low-calorie content has won the hearts of dieters.
What Is The Healthiest Cheese?
The healthiest cheese is the one that suits your nutritional requirements. For the vast majority of people, a high-protein low-fat cheese is considered healthy.
Some people who are on specialized diets such as a prediabetes diet, low-sodium, low-cholesterol, low-sugar, and low-lactose diets may have different needs.
If you’re on a low-cholesterol diet, low-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, and goat cheese can help in managing your cholesterol levels.
If you’re on a low-lactose diet, blue cheeses and swiss cheeses are your go-to’s.
As a general rule of thumb, stay out of pre-shredded, pre-grated, and processed cheeses as they may contain additives and preservatives.
Making Cheeses Your Friends
Nothing tastes as good as health and longevity feel.
—Eric Edmeades, Author Of Mindvalley’s Wildfit Program
Cheeses can be your friends or your enemies.
They can either help you achieve your health goals or break it.
Cheeses that are low in the bad stuff and high in the good stuff (like protein in cheese) are your friends. They may not taste as good as their counterparts but trust us, your body will be grateful later.
What you want to avoid are cheeses that are low in the good stuff and high in the bad stuff. Especially processed cheese.
How do you know which cheese is your friend?
You can take these 3 simple steps to start becoming a mindful consumer.
- Know your health goals. Are you on a low-sodium diet?
- Identify which nutrient you should take more and take less.
- Read the food ingredients and labels as if you’re reading your credit card statement.
When you know what your body truly needs and know what you’re really eating, you’re doing yourself, your body and our planet a huge favor.
Do you think protein in cheese is good for you? Why? Share your opinions in the comments below!