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Calorie Count Blog

The Skinny on Cheese


By +Carolyn Richardson on Sep 11, 2012 09:00 AM in Tips & Updates

I cheese you cheese, we all cheese for CHEESE! Okay it’s not exactly ice cream, but as we count calories for a healthier lifestyle, we may shun cheese-laden dishes like pizza, nachos, and macaroni and cheese. For this and other reasons, cheese may not be high on your healthy-foods-to-eat list, but the cheese industry is looking to change that. As lowering salt and fat in foods becomes big business, cheese is the latest on the chopping block. Because most cheeses have a short ingredient list of milk, salt, and enzymes, tinkering with it can have drastic effects for consumers. Food manufacturers are trying to strike a balance between less fat and salt, without sacrificing too much in the flavor department. But they have a daunting task before them. Lloyd Metzger, dairy scientist at South Dakota State University, tells the New York Times, “If you really want to make bad cheese, make a low-fat, low-sodium one.” Because you’ll be hard pressed to find both in one product, here’s what to expect taste-wise from a low-fat vs. low-sodium cheese.

Less Fat

The president of the Dairy Research Institute, Gregory D. Miller was quoted as saying, “When you take a lot of the fat out, essentially cheese will turn into an eraser.” His is a reference to the change in moisture that goes with lowering fat in cheese. If there is less fat that means more water, which results in less flavor, a different texture, and quicker spoilage, all of which are undesirable to consumers. A study in the Journal of Sensory Studies by North Carolina State University researchers found consumers would leave lower fat cheese on the shelf if both taste and texture differences were not up to par with full-fat cheese. This aligns with an industry report by Dairy Management, Inc. that reveals reduced-fat cheese is the most popular of the less fat options. So you know, reduced-fat cheese is about 25% less fat than full-fat cheese, while light is between a third to 50% less fat. Low fat is 3 grams of fat or less per serving and fat-free is less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. To savor the flavor and save calories, go for less than full-fat cheeses in combination dishes where you won’t miss the taste, such as casseroles, pasta dishes, and sauces. Go for full-fat when it counts such as in salads, sandwiches, and when its served on its own, such as on platters with fresh vegetables, crackers, or grapes.  

Less Salt

In addition to controlling moisture, salt controls bacteria, both of which affect flavor. This means you’ll see more sodium in many reduced fat cheese offerings to maintain flavor. But less salt means sacrificing flavor. It’s no wonder that sales of low-sodium cheese has been lackluster. According to the National Dairy Council, the percentage of sales of low-sodium cheddar cheese accounts for a “trivial” portion of the market. Adding salt substitutes doesn’t solve the flavor problem either. Even if the taste is perfected the change in name could turn customers off. Unlike products that use artificial sweeteners as sugar substitutes, cheese undergoes a name change when salt substitutes such as potassium chloride are used. For example, as oppose to Cheddar Cheese, its’ name would be Cheddar Cheese product. Aside from flavor, drastic cuts in sodium could pose food safety issues as salt acts as a preservative.

The Highs and Lows of Cheese

It's good to know what you're getting your cheese-loving self into, and because you're likely to enjoy some low-fat or low-sodium options alongside regular full-fat cheese, we wanted to share a list of the naturally highs and lows of fat and sodium content in cheese.

  • Most fat (grams per oz):  Sharp Cheddar 9 
  • Least fat (grams per oz): Mozzarella(Part-Skim) 4.5 
  • Most sodium (mg per oz): American 273
  • Least sodium (mg per oz): Swiss 54

 

Your thoughts...

How do you get your cheese fix without going overboard with fat or sodium?

 



Comments


I don't worry too much about which cheeses I'm eating.  As long as you aren't gorging on the stuff, you shouldn't see a huge impact on your weight gain/loss.  

Then again, some people can't handle cheese as it messes with their gutty-works.  So, those poor people never get delicious cheese :-(.

Here's a TIP!  If you're putting a slice of cheese on your turkey sandwich (or ham or tuna or whatever!), only put a HALF of a slice kitty-corner across it.  That way you get cheese in almost every bite, but half the calories and sodium!

Jim

Learn how to eat half meals and lose weight eating anything - including cheese.



I rarely eat cheese due to lactose intolerance but husband loves it. For his sandwich type cheese we get it either in the deli and ask for it sliced thinner than normal  ( just a little thicker than shaved) or some brands IE Sargento have a thin sliced cheese. It 's about 80 cal per slice so has a normal cheese taste and texture but less calories. I do use reduced fat in cooking but not for eating.



lol, well we do eat what I cook, I meant eating "raw"



Along with CC'ing, I recently switched  to a low-fat diet and have started seeing  better results in weight loss just by counting fat grams as well as calories.  What I have been having a hard time finding is fat free cheese.  The only type I can ever find is American cheese slices which I never cared for in regular cheese anyway, let alone FF.  It always tasted like imitation cheese product to me.  Anyway, as I delved into limiting fat grams to 25 or less per day, I thought I would give the fat free cheese a chance even though I had always heard it was horrible.   Since I haven't been able to find shredded varieties of FF cheddar or even FF block cheese in regular grocery stores, I was wondering if anyone knows where to find these?



Original Post by: benneliz

Along with CC'ing, I recently switched  to a low-fat diet and have started seeing  better results in weight loss just by counting fat grams as well as calories.  What I have been having a hard time finding is fat free cheese.  The only type I can ever find is American cheese slices which I never cared for in regular cheese anyway, let alone FF.  It always tasted like imitation cheese product to me.  Anyway, as I delved into limiting fat grams to 25 or less per day, I thought I would give the fat free cheese a chance even though I had always heard it was horrible.   Since I haven't been able to find shredded varieties of FF cheddar or even FF block cheese in regular grocery stores, I was wondering if anyone knows where to find these?


Kraft makes a shredded fat free mozzarella and a fat free cheddar. Both are shredded. They aren't bad in taste especially if you are using them as just in add in to foods. But I have even used them to make cheese rich items like pizza and it's not too bad.


Kraft makes a FF Shredded CHeese.  Not bad either.  I use it in casseroles and for tacos.  Pretty good for FF!



Despite this: "Go for full-fat when it counts such as in salads, sandwiches, and when its served on its own, such as on platters with fresh vegetables, crackers, or grapes", I've found that reduced fat mozzarella string cheese is a yummy way to enjoy cheese on its own or with fruits, vegetables or crackers . . . okay, so I'm a little kid trapped in a grown woman's body.

As for cheese in general, I don't eat it plain.  Like the article says, eat it with fruits, vegetables, crackers, sprinkled on spaghetti (I use Parmesan, not mozzarella for that) and meats (in a sandwich).  Cheese adds flavor, so you don't need much of it.  Just one slice in a sandwich, a little sprinkle on pasta and meats and a little bit on a cracker or fruit or vegetable.



Or you could forget fat and cholesterol phobia and enjoy full fat cheese with everything.

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/how-did-we-come-to-believ e-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-are-bad-for-us

Read the article and watch the video.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  There is quite a bit more out there showing that fat isn't the bugaboo we have been led to believe if you have an open mind.

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-chol esterol-part-i

The following is a summarized part 1.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-straight-dope-on-choleste rol-10-things-you-need-to-know-part-1/#axzz24yQA8cQu

Fat in the right context and if its the right fat is not at all unhealthy.  Even saturated fat.  I know to anyone who hasn't read this already that may sound crazy, but if you watch the video and read the article you should begin to understand why.

If anyone thinks its intriguing and would like to read more send me a pm or reply in this comment section either way.



Original Post by: benneliz

Along with CC'ing, I recently switched  to a low-fat diet and have started seeing  better results in weight loss just by counting fat grams as well as calories.  What I have been having a hard time finding is fat free cheese.  The only type I can ever find is American cheese slices which I never cared for in regular cheese anyway, let alone FF.  It always tasted like imitation cheese product to me.  Anyway, as I delved into limiting fat grams to 25 or less per day, I thought I would give the fat free cheese a chance even though I had always heard it was horrible.   Since I haven't been able to find shredded varieties of FF cheddar or even FF block cheese in regular grocery stores, I was wondering if anyone knows where to find these?


What kind of diet were you on before?  Also what made you change?  Did something about it not work?



As far as salt content goes the fact that processed foods generally use refined salt rather than unrefined is much of the problem.  Unrefined salt like Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, or Fleur de sel do not have the same health effects as Refined table salt.

http://www.realsalt.com/testimonials/

http://blog.realsalt.com/

Be careful though as some "sea salts" are just coarse ground table salt.  The types I listed are all unrefined and contain many trace minerals that are stripped through heating in the refining process for typical table salt such as Morton's.  They also add things called anti-caking agents....which are probably not good for you and dextrose ...ie sugar.



If you read much about people in France you will find out that they have far fewer obese people roaming around.  Portion sizes are smaller and they do not snack all day like we do.  They do not sell a lot of low fat or non fat dairy products.  They eat a full fat, full salt cheese every day as a finish to their late evening meals.  They do not eat huge breakfasts either.  They prefer quality over quantity.  They have over the centuries discovered a way of eating that keeps them at a normal weight.  Many Americans lose weight on trips to France in which they dine on creamy divine dishes, wine, cheese and full fat products.  Leave my cheese alone, please.



What about mixing cheeses?  Personally, I like shredded sharp cheddar with equal amounts of mozzarella in my omelets and macaroni. 



Original Post by: jcap625

Original Post by: benneliz

Along with CC'ing, I recently switched  to a low-fat diet and have started seeing  better results in weight loss just by counting fat grams as well as calories.  What I have been having a hard time finding is fat free cheese.  The only type I can ever find is American cheese slices which I never cared for in regular cheese anyway, let alone FF.  It always tasted like imitation cheese product to me.  Anyway, as I delved into limiting fat grams to 25 or less per day, I thought I would give the fat free cheese a chance even though I had always heard it was horrible.   Since I haven't been able to find shredded varieties of FF cheddar or even FF block cheese in regular grocery stores, I was wondering if anyone knows where to find these?


Kraft makes a shredded fat free mozzarella and a fat free cheddar. Both are shredded. They aren't bad in taste especially if you are using them as just in add in to foods. But I have even used them to make cheese rich items like pizza and it's not too bad.

The Kraft shredded is very good, and Borden makes a Sharp Cheddar FF single that is good also,,,,I get at Walmart.



PLEASE-REALLY-THE PROBLEM WITH CHEESE IS NOT FAT OR SALT.  FAT ONE OF THE FOUR NEEDED NUTRIENTS AND UNPROCESSED SALT A NEEDED MINERAL.  THE PROBLEM LIES IN MILK PROCESSED INTO CHEESE FROM COWS EATING GMO CORN AS FILLER, AND ALUMINUM PUT INTO CHEESE FOR CREAMINESS.  DOES THE CHEESE INDUSTRY REALLY NOT KNOW THAT LOW FAT LOW SODIUM ARE OUT THERE?  THE 2ND PROBLEM LIES WITHIN AMERICANS CONSUMING A POUND OF IT A WEEK.  WHERE TO GET YOUR FATS?  THINK NATURAL-COCONUT OIL, OLIVE OIL, AVOCADOS, NUTS.  SALT IS USUALLY NOT A PROBLEM IN AN AMERICAN DIET, IF YOU CONSUME ONE PROCESSED FOOD OR EAT OUT-YOU ARE USUALLY OVER SODIUM INTAKE.  IF YOU DO NOT, TRY A PINCH OF CELTIC SALT IN YOU PITCHER OF WATER.  



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