Regarded as a waistline offender and an example of unhealthy food, cheese is by no means a thing to avoid. Scientific evidence suggests cheese can bring a lot of benefits if consumed in moderation. If you have always abstained from munching on a morsel of cheese, you might want to reevaluate your attitude towards this food if you know more about what compounds there are and what beneficial effects they may produce.
Image Credit: Tre Stelle Cheese
Just like any other food, cheese should be consumed in moderation. It is high in calories, so eating a wedge a day is likely to prevent you from wearing your favorite trousers.
Before we proceed to health benefits of cheese, here are a few preliminary remarks.
Some cheeses are moldy and thus dangerous to people allergic to mold. Make sure your body tolerates it; otherwise you run the risk of experiencing anaphylaxis. It’s a rare thing, but such a possibility exists, so be careful when indulging in exotic foods for the first time.
Besides, cheese is rich in saturated fats, which are considered to be unhealthy. It appears that saturated fats should not be avoided completely – as moderate consumption is even beneficial – but limiting your cheese intake is definitely a must.
Many cheeses are rich in butyrate, which is reported to be able to reduce inflammation, and boost metabolism. The latter effect can even help you lose weight – if you do not exceed reasonable amounts, of course. It is found in such cheeses as blue cheese, Parmesan, Gouda, Gruyère and cheddar, which, as a bonus, can promote butyrate production by the human microbiome. Besides, it has recently been revealed that butyrate’s anti-inflammatory properties can contribute to fight against cancer.
Cheese is rich in proteins, so it can be used as a snack if you are building muscles. Instead of buying protein powder, opt for ricotta, a delicious Italian cheese that is packed with whey proteins. It is a healthy alternative to special supplements designed to power muscles. Proteins are comprised of amino acids, which are required by the body to create new cells, including muscles.
Cheese is beneficial for teeth and bones, because it is made from milk, and milk, in its turn, is rich in calcium. It is especially important to provide developing bodies, like those of infants, children and teenagers, with calcium to ensure proper bone formation. While calcium supplements turned out to be useless and even dangerous, providing your body with nutrients from natural sources is a must. That is when cheese comes in handy. Choose Parmesan, as it provides a lot of calcium: one ounce contains 336 mg of calcium, which is the lion’s share of the recommended daily intake of 1,000 mg. Phosphorus found in cheese also benefits teeth.
According to researchers, consumption of 1.75 ounces of cheese daily is associated with a decrease in the risk for diabetes type 2 by 8%. Another component in cheese that can help prevent diabetes is calcium, which is capable of increasing insulin secretion thus reducing resistance to insulin. There are also whey proteins, which are reported to contribute to insulin sensitivity.
Don’t be afraid of eating cheese, as many healthy diets include this food. The Mediterranean diet, which is praised as one of the best diets in the world, implies eating cheese in small amounts. However, do not let healthy eating turn into an obsession: after all, even abiding by all rules of a healthy lifestyle does not provide any guarantees. Help your body by avoiding junk food and stick to a diet that is natural and nutrient-rich.