Some people love lollies, others chocolate or cakes and then you have those among us who love nothing more than a glass of wine and a cheese plate. From traditional cheddar to spreadable cream cheese; the richer, softer cheeses and feta and haloumi we could literally talk about cheese all day. So here are the pros and cons of the most popular cheeses out there, well, if there are any cons at all.
Cheddar cheese is an aged, semi hard cow’s milk cheese produced when milk curd is heated and kneaded with salt before the whey is drained and the remaining blocks are stacked and left to mature for a number of months in controlled temperatures. Cheddar cheese is high in protein (26%) as well as calcium and a number of key nutrients involved in bone development including magnesium and phosphorus. A single 30g serve of cheese (roughly the size of a matchbox) provides 8g of protein and more than 200mg of calcium, making it an extremely nutrient rich food choice. The main issue is that regular cheese is 30-40% fat, meaning that it contains up to 10g of fat per 30g serve, a significant proportion of which is saturated fat. This is compared to “reduced fat” or “light” varieties of cheese which contain 25% less fat than the regular fat alternatives, or “low fat”, somewhat rubbery varieties of cheddar which contain less than 3% fat. From a taste perspective, one would argue that you are much better to enjoy the tastiest cheese you enjoy, in controlled portions as opposed to reverting to a low fat option.
Often forgotten, humble cottage cheese is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can enjoy. Made from the curd of milk, which gives it its loose, soft texture, cottage cheese contains more than 16g of protein per ½ cup along with calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B12, adding a serve of cottage cheese into your day is a great way to bump up your intake of essential nutrients for very few calories. Popular with dieters, cottage cheese can be enjoyed with fruit as a high protein breakfast, on crackers as a filling snack or mix into dips or add to salads for a significant protein boost.
A salty, semi hard cheese that is generally made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk and set with rennet, haloumi has a high meting point and often serve grilled or fried. Nutritionally halloumi cheese contains slightly less fat (26%) than regular cheddar cheese but more than double the sodium content thanks to the brine used to preserve it. Haloumi is delicious and as such one of the biggest issues it poses is the risk of overeating as it is easy to demolish a 200g packet in a single meal which equates to an extra 680 calories, 54g of fat and almost 3000mg of sodium, hence when it comes to halloumi, portion control is crucial.
Made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, feta cheese is a crumbly aged cheese soaked in brine giving it a salty taste with flavours ranging from mild to sharp. Slightly lower in fat than cheddar cheese with 21% fat, like haloumi feta cheese is relatively high in sodium with almost double the salt content than that of cheddar cheese. Most commonly enjoyed in salads, feta cheese can be a calcium rich, tasty addition to salads and thanks to its rich flavour can easily be enjoyed fully in small amounts.
Known as ‘chevre’ by the French Goat’s cheese is simply made by letting raw milk curdle, before pressing the curd and contains a similar fat content to that of feta cheese (18-21%). With its rather basic processing, the extra bonus of using goat’s cheese is that it contains very little salt. Another great thing about goat’s cheese is that its rich floavour means that you need very little, and hence can enjoy it as a spread or salad addition for maximum flavour for far fewer calories and fat than if you used heavy haloumi or cheddar cheese.
While reduced fat or ‘light’ varieties of cream cheese are available, in its natural state cream cheese is 35% fat with ¼ of the protein of regular cheddar cheese. Cream cheese is a relatively simple version of cheese, traditionally made with leftover milk which was soured using lemon juice or vinegar and then strained. Modern processing now sees cream cheese made with added emulsifiers and stabilisers to keep it consistent for purchase. Often seen with added savoury and sweet flavours, as well as in lower fat varieties, cream cheese is a popular spread and dip. Cream cheese lacks the protein of aged cheddar cheese and feta and for this reason; portion control is the key to avoid a total fat overload as we often polish off an entire container of cream cheese dip in a single setting once the tub has been opened.
Type of cheese (per 30g serve) | Cal | Fat | Sat Fat | Protein
Mersey Valley | 125 | 9.9 | 6.3 | 7.4
Camembert | 92 | 7.5 | 4.9 | 5.9
Double Brie | 113 | 9.6 | 6.7 | 5.8
Goat’s Cheese | 80 | 6.3 | 4.4 | 5.6
Light Philly | 54 | 4.1 | 2.9 | 2.4
Feta | 83 | 6.8 | 4.5 | 5.2
Haloumi | 75 | 5.1 | 3.3 | 6.4
Cheddar | 122 | 10.1 | 6.4 | 8.0
Reduced Fat Cheddar | 102 | 7.2 | 4.6 | 9.4