Is cheese an integral part of almost every component of your meals? Could this be a meal at your house: cheese and crackers to munch on, mozzarella and tomato as an appetizer, cauliflower casserole with cheddar cheese, and grilled burgers with the option of melted cheese on top? How about cheesecake as your favorite dessert?
Let’s take a look at cheese and figure out where cheese can fit into our healthy eating plan. Even if the above meal plan didn’t sound like one you’d recognize, this information will be very useful……I guarantee it.
What kind of fat is in cheese?
The kind of fat in a particular cheese is dependent on the source of that cheese. Just as the quality of our milk is only as good as the cow it came from, the same rule goes for cheese.
Conventional cheese from non grass-fed cows is very high in Omega 6 fats. We want to reduce the amount of Omega 6’s in our diet and consistently keep increasing the amount of Omega 3’s.
Cheese that is made from the milk of grass-fed, free roaming cows (without antibiotics and growth hormones) is much higher in Omega 3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid. CLA is an extremely healthy fat that has been found to be a potent cancer fighter. The most abundant source of natural CLA is the meat and dairy products of grass-fed animals. Research conducted since 1999 shows that grazing animals have from 3-5 times more CLA than animals fattened on grain in a feedlot. Simply switching from grain-fed to grass-fed products can greatly increase your intake of CLA.
Is the fat in cheese of the good kind or bad kind? Again, that greatly depends on the source of your cheese. Conventional, non-organic cheese can be quite high in bad fat and laden with antibiotics and hormones and really should NOT be included in our meal plans, whereas grass-fed, organic cheese can be a wonderful and tasty addition to your healthy meal plans.
Also remember that raw dairy is always a better option than pasteurized dairy. Raw milk may be extremely difficult to find in many states but raw cheese can be found at most grocery stores and health food stores all over the world. If you have never had raw cheese before, you are going to be absolutely amazed by the delicious taste. Raw cheese is so much more flavorful than any conventional cheese and makes all the difference in the world, especially when used in recipes.
Certain cheeses should be avoided at all costs. American Cheese out of plastic wrapping…..I think NOT.
Is cheese a fat or a protein?
Whereas many nutrition plans count cheese as a protein, I prefer to count it as a fat option That is because I do not feel that the protein content in cheese is high enough to qualify it as a full protein. With that being said, cheese does have a significant amount of protein, but for blood sugar balancing purposes, it just may not be enough for some.
Listen to your body, though. Some people can have 2 ounces of cheddar cheese and a small apple as a snack and feel great, whereas others may have this same snack and feel lethargic and sleepy just 30 minutes later. Let your body tell you if this would be a healthy option for you as a protein source.
Let’s remember that portion control comes into effect with just about everything and 1-2 ounces of cheese (1 oz is about the size of a domino) can go a really long way in any meal. Think of cheese as a condiment!
Here are some great ways to add cheese into your healthy weight loss meal plans:
- Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of your morning vegetable omelet.
- Combine cheese with an apple or pear and some raw nuts as a great 3pm pick-me-up.
- Melt cheese over vegetables to get your whole family to eat their veggies.
It only takes a small amount of cheese to add that extra flavor to most meals and recipes. So you see, there is a healthy way to have your cheese and eat it too.