For cheese-loving diabetics, in particular, there are definitely ways to enjoy your cheese and eat it too! Don’t listen to the naysayers.
A friend of mine likes to say that the healthiest cheeses for diabetics are none of them…Well, I wouldn’t go that far, because there’s enough to go around and diabetics have a lot of variety to choose from.
Not too long ago it seemed that our choice of cheese in this country was limited to American, Swiss, and Cheddar. Today, however, there are more than 400 varieties and we are choosing a lot!
But be careful — with more cheese choices come more ways to gain weight.
Cheese is a fabulous source of calcium, but it can also be high in saturated fat, so If you don’t choose carefully, you could get more fat from the cheese on your burger than from your burger!
It’s not so much a question of choosing Feta cheese over Camembert or Gorgonzola over Brie that determines high fat vs low fat.
➡ To keep the calories down, you need to look for low-fat versions of any cheese or limit the amount of full-fat gourmet cheese you eat.
Know Your Cheese Groups
There is no way to standardize cheese groups, it seems. Some stores classify them by where they came from; others group them by soft, semi-soft of hard. And then there are the “connoisseurs” with a far more elaborate system of grouping gourmet cheese.
Lucky for us there are a few categories we can recognize.
➡ These include cheeses that contain some Whey and have a short shelf life. Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.
- They are soft and creamy like cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, mascarpone, and mozzarella.
➡ This category belongs to the gourmet cheeses like Brie and Camembert, as well as Monterey Jack and Muenster. Processed cheese brands like “Laughing Cow” are also included.
➡ They are usually pale in color and can be easily sliced, and may be flavored with dry vegetables and/or spices
➡ Also known as “aged” cheeses, this group includes Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, and Gruyere.
➡ These cheeses are hard to the touch because most of the moisture has been removed. This makes them good for grating and gives them a long shelf-life. Most of them have intense flavors.
➡ These are also called “blue-veined cheeses” and their markings make them easy to recognize. The color comes from the blue mold that gives them a very strong flavor.
➡ Blue cheeses include Gorgonzola, Danish Blue Cheese, and Roquefort. Blue cheeses crumble easily, making them ideal to use in salads.
The term “processed” is used to describe cheeses that are a combination of natural cheese and ingredients like emulsifiers or artificial flavors that increase shelf-life.
➡ Examples are American cheese and processed cheese spreads.
So which to choose?
Each type of cheese has a different nutritional profile, For example, some have lots of calcium; others have very little.
➡ Cheddar, Swiss, and other hard cheeses pack over 100 calories per ounce.
➡ Parmesan: 20 calories per tablespoon. (Use this cheese to add flavor to soups and pasta).
➡ Feta Cheese: 75 calories per ounce
- Feta is a tangy alternative to more fatty cheeses. Just a half ounce will spice up your salads.
- Different types of feta have different calories, so check the label.
Goat Cheese: 75 calories per ounce
This is a protein-filled, creamy cheese, with a tangy flavor, like yogurt.
- It works well for spreading on a sandwich. Try using it instead of mayonnaise.
Mozzarella: Part-skim: 70 calories per ounce. Made with Whole milk: 85 calories per ounce
➡ If you’re using a lot of cheese (think lasagna), part skimmed milk might be the more healthful choice. However, for 15 more calories per ounce, whole milk Mozzarella is more satisfying.
➡ Try it instead of cheddar on a grilled cheese. Add basil and sun-dried tomato spread for a treat.
Neufchatel cheese: 70 calories per ounce
➡ This spreadable cheese is a great substitute for fattier cream cheese.
- Philadelphia brand’s 1/3 less fat cream cheese is this type of cheese. You won’t miss the fat and Neufchatel actually tastes better!
- Try it instead of cheddar on a grilled cheese. Add basil and sun-dried tomato spread for a delicious treat.
Camembert: 85 calories/ounce
➡ This is closely related to Brie and is tasty with crackers and fruit.
- Camembert is made in a similar way to the creamy cheese but has 10 fewer calories.
Cottage cheese is loaded with casein, a type of protein that is very good for muscle tissue.
What almost all of them have in common, however, is their high-fat content. So, if you’re watching your calorie intake, your best bet is to opt for low-fat cheese or very flavorful varieties which you’ll eat in smaller amounts.
“Reduced Fat” cheese is definitely a healthier choice.
The flavorful variety is also good, because of their strong flavors, you can use them sparingly and still get plenty of the cheese flavor.
Healthy Ways To Enjoy Your Cheese And Eat It Too
- Add a thin slice of almost any variety of semi-soft cheese to apple slices.
- Make a roll-up of deli sliced turkey breast and cheese.
- Top whole-grain bruschetta with freshly diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Mix fat-free cream cheese with a can of salmon and a dash or two of smoke flavor.
- Top a sweet potato with low-fat cottage cheese and steamed broccoli.
- Pair gorgonzola with dried figs, apricots, and pears.
Top a bowl of berries with small slices of BrieCheese has a low glycemic index (GI), which means that it releases glucose slowly and will not trigger significant blood glucose spikes. …
➡ Cheese is an important source of calcium and protein in your diet, so there’s room for it in any healthy recipe. The best way to eat healthy cheese, however, is to go for quality over quantity.