Cheese is almost a universal food in the world today. It is made in just about every country where milk is produced and available. The most familiar cheeses are made from cow’s milk; a wide variety can come from other sources such as goats, sheep, and even buffaloes. Like all dairy products, cheese is usually high in protein and calcium. It takes about 8 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of most types of cheese, with the result that just an ounce of cheese contains as much fat as a cup of whole milk! In fact, most cheeses get 60% to 90% of their calories from fat. An ounce of cheddar cheese supplies 9.4 grams of fat-the equivalent of two pats of butter.
Despite this dismal news, you need not give up on cheese. High fat cheeses can be eaten in smaller amounts without risk to your health. Because a cheese can be so rich tasting, a little can go a long way toward enhancing other foods such as a topping to a cracker or sprinkled over a serving of pasta. The sharper the cheese, the less you will need to get the flavor. Try using parmesan, Romano, feta, sharp cheddar, or some of the flavored cheeses like jalapeno and garlic instead of traditional cheddar.
In response to consumer demand for low fat and more healthful foods, new low-fat and fat-free versions can be found today. Be sure to read labels because fat contents can range from 0 grams to 8 grams per serving, depending upon the type of milk used. Farmer’s cheese and cottage cheese contains 38% of calories from fat. Two percent fat cottage cheese gets only 19% of its calories from fat, while dry curd cottage cheese has only 4% of calories from fat. The type you choose can make a big difference in your fat intake in a day.
Some tips which may help you when selecting just the right cheese, whether it is for a casserole or a sandwich:
- Look for cheeses that supply only 5 grams of fat per serving or less.
- The sharper or more distinctive flavor a cheese has, the less will be needed to enhance the dish.
- Fat-free cheeses are great for salads, sandwiches, or toppings for crackers. They do not melt when heated and should not be used when foods are cooked.