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Which Cheeses Can I Eat on a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet?

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Updated May 01, 2014

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Which Cheeses Can I Eat on a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet?

Different types of cheeses.

Olga Nayashkova

Who doesn’t like to sprinkle a little bit of cheese on their favorite dish? Although delicious and high in calcium, cheese can also introduce additional cholesterol and saturated fat into your diet – both of which can increase your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. There are many types of cheeses available for your cooking pleasure – whether you are having a craving for a tangy cheddar cheese slice or a milder dollop of ricotta cheese to add to your dish. If you are looking to use cheese in your cholesterol-lowering diet, these tips will provide you with the cheeses that are highest and lowest in fats, as well as general tips on how to add cheese to your healthy diet – without adding extra fat.

Which Cheeses Are Lowest in Fat?

The more commonly used cheeses in foods, such as mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack, bleu cheese, provolone and Swiss, all contain similar amounts of cholesterol (21 to 29 grams) and saturated fat (3.7 and 5.9 grams). However, it appears that provolone and mozzarella cheeses contain lower amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, whereas other cheeses, such as American and Monterey Jack, contain slightly higher amounts of both fats. For instance, one ounce of provolone cheese contains 4.8 grams of saturated fat compared to up to 5.5 grams of saturated fat for the same sized piece of American cheese. In this case, by replacing the type of cheese you add to your sandwich or soup, you would be cutting the amount of saturated fat added.

Other types of cheeses, such as part-skim ricotta cheese and cottage cheese, have even lower amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol per serving. Compared to one cup of shredded cheddar cheese, which contains 23. grams of saturated fat and 119 grams of cholesterol, one cup of cottage cheese contains 6 grams of saturated fat and 32 grams of cholesterol. If you were to select low-fat versions of these products, the saturated fat and cholesterol content would be cut almost in half.

Helpful Tips for Adding Cheese to Your Low-Fat Diet

Fortunately, there are other ways you can cut saturated fat and cholesterol content of the cheeses that you add to your foods. Try these helpful tips if you want to add cheese to your cholesterol-lowering diet:

Look for low-fat versions of your favorite cheeses. Sometimes, substituting a cheese for one that is slightly lower in fat, such as ricotta or cottage cheese, may not be feasible in some foods. In these cases, you may want to check to see if a low-fat version of your favorite cheese is available. If the cheese product is low-fat, it will likely say so on the product’s packaging. Many low-fat cheeses taste just the same and have a similar consistency to their full-fat counterparts – making them an excellent substitute for cheese lovers that just can’t let go of their favorite cheeses in their cholesterol-lowering diet. However, you should always check the food labeling for fat content, too, in order to make sure that you still not introducing too much saturated fat and cholesterol into your diet.

Use a cheese substitute. If you enjoy adding cheese to your dishes – and are watching your fat intake -- you might want to entertain the possibility of experimenting with cheese substitutes. These foods are made from plant products, such as soy, so they lack the saturated fats that full-fat dairy products contain. Even though they are not dairy-based cheeses, they can still help to create a terrific dish without adding excess fat to your dish. If you are interested in the types of cheese substitutes available, and how to include them in your dishes, try some of these helpful tips:

Include smaller portions. If low-fat cheeses and cheese substitutes aren’t appealing to you, there is always the option of reducing the amount of your favorite cheese added to some of the foods that you eat. For instance, instead of heaping three slices of Swiss cheese onto your sandwich, add just one slice. In the case of adding shredded cheese, where we can definitely get carried away with adding too much , use a measuring cup or spoon to add your cheese instead of your fingers and eyes, which have a tendency to underestimate the amount you are adding. Many food manufacturers have also pre-sliced cheeses that are thinner than their regular counterparts – allowing you to enjoy a complete slice of cheese without having to cut up cheese slices to cut your fat intake.

Sources:

Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 12th ed 2010.

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