Think of cheese as a flavor enhancera supporting player in a meal. A thin slice with fruit makes a nice dessert. An ounce or two of cheese, even daily, is reasonableas long as you can afford the calories and your diet is not otherwise high in saturated fat.
To make wiser cheese choices:
- Compare calories and fat on packaged cheeses. All cheeses have a lot, but some, such as Cheddar and Swiss, have more (110 to 125 calories and 8 to 9 grams fat per ounce) than others, such as soft goat cheese, feta, and mozzarella (75 to 85 calories and 6 grams fat per ounce)
- Use strong or savory cheesesthey have more flavor, so you dont need as much. Use small amounts of grated Parmesan or crumbled feta or blue cheese, for instance, in salads, soups, pastas, and vegetable dishes.
- Reduced-fat, low-fat, and nonfat cheeses are availableand can be good choices if you eat more than an ounce a day, or if a recipe calls for large amounts of cheese. Many taste and even melt better than they used to.
- Note that calcium levels vary greatly. Hard cheeses have about 200 milligrams per ounce (20% of the Daily Value). But calcium can range from 40 milligrams (in soft goat cheese) to 270 milligrams (in low-fat Swiss). Cottage cheese, eaten by the cup, not the ounce, is a fair source (140 milligrams per cup).
- Watch the sodium. It typically ranges from about 100 to 300 milligrams an ounce, but some cheeses have moreas much as 500 milligrams in processed cheese. Others, such as Swiss and Gruyère, have less. Some low-sodium cheeses have as little as 5 milligrams of sodium per ounce.
A word about cream cheese: Regular cream cheese, which is very high in fat (10 grams per ounce), is a meager source of calcium (just 22 milligrams per ounce) and has negligible protein. Look for reduced-fat (sometimes called Neufchatel cheese or 1/3 less fat cream cheese), low-fat (light), or nonfat versions. Farmer cheese, which is low in fat, is a good alternative.