Cheese is a high source of both protein and calcium, but it also includes both cholesterol and saturated fat. In fact, it is the top dietary source of the latter for Americans, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Cheese can be a part of a well-balanced, low-cholesterol diet, but which cheeses you choose—and how much you eat—matters.
Cheeses Lowest in Fat
Mozzarella and feta are on the lower end of the saturated fat scale. Cheddar and Swiss cheese include slightly higher amounts of fat.
These fat content differences are helpful when deciding on which cheese to use on a cheese sandwich, in a salad, and while cooking food.
Other types of cheese
such as part-skim ricotta cheese and cottage cheese, which have even lower amounts of saturated fat per serving.
One cup of cottage cheese contains 6 grams of saturated fat, while one cup of Spreadable Cheeses contains about 24 grams of saturated fat.
If you were to select low-fat versions of these products, the saturated fat content would be cut almost in half.
The cheeses including the lowest amounts of cholesterol are given with low-fat or fat-free milk.
Lowest in Cholesterol
Low-cholesterol cheeses include:
• Part-skim mozzarella cheese (19 mg cholesterol per ounce)
• Low-fat (1 percent) cottage cheese (1.5 mg cholesterol per ounce or 8 mg per cup)
• Low-fat cheddar cheese or Colby cheese (6.3 mg cholesterol per ounce)
• Fat-free cream cheese (1.5 mg cholesterol per tablespoon)
Highest in Cholesterol
Cheeses to limit include:
• Whole milk ricotta cheese (14.3mg cholesterol per ounce or 125 mg cholesterol per cup)
• Cheese with 25.5 to 27.5 mg cholesterol per ounce, including cheddar, Swiss, feta, Muenster, and American processed cheese
Low-Cholesterol Diet Cheese Tips
There are ways you can enjoy dishes containing cheese while cutting the overall saturated fat and calorie content.
Try these helpful tips for those on a low-cholesterol diet:
• Do a cheese swap.
Try substituting cottage cheese or ricotta for higher-fat cheese in recipes. You may discover that these taste just as good.
• Look for low-fat variants of your
preferred cheeses. Check to see if a low-fat account of your favorite cheese is available. Many low-fat types taste the same and have a comparable texture to their full-fat counterparts.
However, you should always check the food labeling for fat content in order to make sure that you still not introducing more fat than you’ve bargained for.
• Use a vegan cheese substitute.
If you are viewing your fat intake, try a cheese replacement made from plant products, such as soy. These vegan cheeses lack the saturated fats full-fat dairy products contain.
• Use smaller portions.
If you don’t want a substitute, you could reduce the amount of your favorite cheese in a dish. For instance, instead of placing three slices of Swiss cheese onto your cheese sandwich, add just one.
Look for thin pre-sliced cheeses that allow you to enjoy a complete slice of cheese while reducing your fat intake.
• Stop eyeballing.
While adding shredded cheese, use a measuring beaker or spoon instead of portioning cheese by hand.
• Maximize flavor.
Look for hard cheeses and “stinky cheeses” that are more flavorful. You can grate just a small bit of aged Parmesan or Asiago onto your pasta or crumble flavorful blue cheese on a salad to satisfy a cheese craving.