As the happy result of an accident over 7,000 years ago, it is estimated that there are now more than 1,800 different types of cheese in the world today. We already know that cheese is good for our heart and soul, but what are the real health benefits of eating cheese in our diet?
Let’s take a look at 7 super health benefits you might not know about from indulging in mankind’s happiest accident, cheese:
1. Cheese may contribute to cancer prevention
Cheese can help save lives!
Colorectal cancer is the most common in the world! According to Bowel Cancer Australia, 1 in 25 will develop colorectal cancer in their life. In fact, the Australian government sponsors free bowel cancer screening programs for eligible Australians aged 50-74 in efforts to reduce deaths.
Recent studies now suggest that dairy products including cheese decreased the risk of some common cancers such as colorectal and lung cancer. Cheese is rich in calcium and lactic acid, but also contains Vitamin D, which are best known to potentially protect us from these common cancers.
Top tip: Ricotta cheese is the superstar of Vitamin D, with one cup containing 25 IUs (International Units) of the nutrient, which is five times as much as other cheeses! (Source)
2. Eating cheese benefits the health of your immune system
Cheese may taste good, and your immune system agrees!
As humans grow older, we are more vulnerable to infection and disease. This is because it is harder for our body to kill cancerous cells.
On the other hand, the important job of our amazing immune system is to fight harmful things that enter the body, this could be through the skin or digestive system. So, how does eating cheese boost your immune responses?
According to the Journal of Clinical Medicine, because cheese is rich in Vitamin A, as anti-inflammatory that assists in regulating our immune system and fighting against infection, a slice of brie may be your perfect little helper this winter for boosting your immune system!
3. Cheese provides healthy fats that our body needs
Surprise, cheese contains healthy fats!
There’s a lot of bad press out there about the risks in consuming fats especially saturated fat, that rubs off onto cheese. Talk about causing obesity and clogging up your precious arteries has brainwashed many of us to believe that cheese is unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs, when in fact, it is quite the opposite!
Did you know that your body actually needs healthy fat?
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good or healthy fats”; they are good for your heart, help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and benefit your overall health. These fats contained in cheese actually HELP you to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to Roberson and Segal, 2020.
Another benefit of healthy fats like cheese is that they keep you full! Ever wondered why your rabbit salad of just lettuce leaves you reaching for a snack to get you to your next meal? Fats are the last to leave our digestive tract, which means they keep us fuller for longer! And prevent us from overeating or excessive snacking.
Another plus for healthy fats is their ability to help you better digest Vitamins A, D, E, and K, All these essential nutrients are better absorbed by your body when with the addition of healthy fats. Take the nutrition superstar kale as an example, the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in kale are absorbed more completely when dietary fat is available. All your greens may go to waste if you don’t add a fat source, like cheese, to your meals!
Cheese, in moderation of course, is a yummy way to get healthy fats into your diet with the added health benefits of keeping you feeling fuller longer and helping you get the most nutritional value out of your food.
Top tip: Try choosing aged cheeses, like Parmesan, and using it as a garnish in salads or soups.
4. Cheese is high in Calcium for strong bones, your brain and even your blood pressure!
This is your sign to put cheese on everything.
It’s common knowledge now that calcium is required by the body to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions such as movement and brain function. Most of your calcium is stored in your bones and teeth, supporting their structure and hardness while maintaining your million dollar smile!
The body also requires calcium for muscles to move, and for nerves to carry important messages from the brain to your body.
Everyone needs calcium, but, according to the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, if you are over 40 years old you should be consuming 1,000mg a day of calcium to maintain your health. Just one easy serving of 40 grams of cheddar cheese provides approximately 30% of your daily requirements.
Here’s a health benefit of eating cheese that you might not know, the consumption of dairy products rich in calcium, Vitamin D, phosphorus and potassium may be influential in reducing high blood pressure with the consumption of Low-fat and low-sodium cheeses in a study by Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).
Top Tip: Enjoying ¼ cup of Mozzarella cheese on your pizza provides you with 182 mg of calcium or enjoying a small wedge of brie weighs in at 93mg. (Source)
5. Cheese is high in Protein that feeds our muscles
From approximately age 50, we start to lose our skeletal muscle, making high quality protein foods that feed our muscles essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle!
Cheese and dairy to the rescue!
Luckily for us, dairy foods are a good source of protein. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that we should consume 2-3 servings of protein per day, however, age, sex and life stage may adjust this.
Top Tip: Here’s some of the cheeses we stock at The Corner Larder that can help you smash your protein goals for healthy muscle development and preservation!
PARMESAN … is one of the most well-known AND highest protein cheeses! Per 100g, parmesan contains 35.1 grams of protein.
SWISS Cheese …pairs well with any sandwich, it is melty and has a sweet, clean and nutty flavour! Per 100g, Swiss cheese provides a whopping 28.4 grams of protein.
SAINT AGUR BLUE…this rich and buttery blue cheese originates from France, and adds some spice into your day! Per 100g, Saint Agur Blue provides 16 grams of protein, Yum!
MANCHEGO… created from the milk of the Manchego sheep, and aged for 12 months! Manchengo has a sweet flavour that sharpens with age. Per 100g gives you 25 grams of protein!
6. Eating cheese is great for your digestion
Cheese brings more than just tasty pleasure, it also keeps your gut bacteria happy and healthy!
We all know fermented food is good for the gut…
When you think about fermented foods it’s probably sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt that come to mind, but did you know cheese is a fermented food?
Fermentation is a chemical change, caused by yeasts, bacteria and mould; in cheese making, milk bacteria digests the milk sugar lactose to produce lactic acid, which acts with rennet (a type of enzyme) to curdle the milk. The whey is then drained off and microbes ripen the curds into cheese and provide us with a source of probiotics. Probiotics are active bacterial cultures with unique characteristics (just like us!) allowing them to survive in our tummies where they help us to maintain the natural balance of our gut bacteria for better digestion.
Top Tip: Not all cheeses contain active probiotics though. An article from Medical Daily reports that “cottage cheeses and soft fermented cheeses like Gouda, some cheddars, and parmesan are all often packed with probiotics.” Each of these cheeses’ curds are not heated again and maintain their probiotic qualities.
7. For healthy skin, organs and vision, eat cheese!
Vitamin A is naturally present in many foods, including cheese!
The Australian Nutrient Reference Values states that vitamin A is important for vision, reproduction and healthy skin. It also helps our heart, lungs, and kidneys function so we can live our best life.
If you are into skincare, you’ll be familiar with retinol/Vitamin A as an ingredient in many popular skincare products. Cheese and dairy products are a great source of rentinol/Vitamin A so munching on your favourite cheese may help you reduce those fine lines and wrinkles from the inside too!
You can check out the retinol content of your favourite cheese here.
So the secret to glowing skin, laser vision and a strong immune system this winter is cheese!
To wrap it up, let’s take 100 grams of reduced fat hard cheddar cheese as an example and look at how it provides health benefits to your body by;
- Making a contribution to lowering the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Providing 15.3 g of fat, which keeps us feeling full, may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and better absorb vitamins from leafy greens.
- Contributing to maintaining a strong immune system for a healthy winter.
- 31.1 g of protein, to help us maintain and build muscle to keep us moving about.
- 995 mg of calcium, essential to keeping our bones and teeth healthy and strong.
- 120 ug (micrograms) of vitamin A, to keep us glowing inside and out. (Source)
You no longer need an excuse for your next wine and cheese or a cheesy snack when you visit the fridge as every bite provides you and your body with super health benefits, helping you be fit and healthy all year round!
Share this with another cheese lover!