Is Cheese Good For Weight Loss? 5 Healthiest Types Of Cheese 2023

Alexandra Gregg

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

is cheese good for weight loss

Is cheese good for weight loss? Historically, it has not been the first food to pop into a person’s head when considering weight loss. That’s because it contains high amounts of saturated fat. However, new evidence tells us that eating a little cheese may have some benefits.

Cheese is high in many different nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus, that help keep your bones strong. Additionally, it contains compounds that aid in digestion and gut health. Lastly, consuming cheese increases your satiety and fulfillment of food, thus fending off unhealthy cravings.  

Keep in mind not all cheese is good for weight loss. So when trying to shed a few pounds, look for a nutrient-dense cheese, high in protein yet lower in calories and fat. Read on to learn the top five kinds of cheese for weight loss.   

Does Cheese Promote Weight Loss?

Cheese, though high in many nutrients, is traditionally high in calories and saturated fat. Therefore, you can include cheese in your weight loss diet but ensure you limit your portion sizes. When eaten in moderation, cheese can help you to lose weight.

That is because it is rich in protein. Protein has been studied and found to be more satiating than other macronutrients. Therefore, the fullness and satisfaction you feel after consuming cheese help to fight off unhealthy cravings and keep your weight and diet on track.

5 Amazing Health Benefits Of Cheese

Heart Health

A 2018 study[1] looked at several different meta-analyses regarding full-fat cheese and dairy products and their effect on cardiovascular health. The studies showed a positive or neutral impact on heart health. In addition, consuming full-fat dairy products contributes to higher intakes of significant nutrients such as vitamin D and K. 

The greater nutrition intake and the anti-inflammatory properties of full-fat dairy are thought to be the mechanics behind the positive effect on heart health. 

Decreased inflammation

The fat in cheese contains something called conjugated linolic acid (CLA[2]). This type of fat has been shown to prevent heart disease and obesity by reducing inflammation. Of note, this is when CLA is eaten in moderation.  

Additionally, studies show cheeses made from grass-fed cows have twice[3] as many CLAs as those from non-grass-fed cows. Therefore, always choose cheese from grass-fed cows to get the greatest amounts of CLA. 

Nutrition

Cheese contains several macro and micronutrients, such as 

  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Zinc
  • Vitamins A and B12

All these nutrients are responsible for a plethora of activity in your body, ranging from red blood cell production and healthy nerve cells to bone health. Of note, most cheeses are high in sodium, so if you are watching your sodium levels, check the nutrition facts label.  Generally, 5% of the daily value (DV) as sodium is considered[4] low, whereas 20% or more is considered high.

Cavity Prevention

According to a study[5] published in 2015, the consumption of dairy products can help to protect from cavities. This study showed that children who consumed above-average intakes of dairy had no cavities at age three compared to children with less than-average dairy consumption. 

Another study[6] published in 2010 showed that the intake of yogurt in children was also helpful in the prevention of dental cavities.  

Satiety

On average, one serving of cheese will offer six to seven grams of protein. Protein is essential for health as it balances blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Also, according to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition[7], protein can help regulate your appetite and increase your satiety levels, which is essential for helping with food cravings and less overall calorie intake, which both aid in weight loss. 

5 Healthiest Types Of Cheese

To help you determine which cheese is good for weight loss, we’ve listed the top five kinds of cheese that are best for a healthy diet and weight loss.

Mozzarella Cheese 

Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella is a good choice for weight loss compared to other cheeses because it is lower in fat, sodium, and calories. It also contains[8] several strains of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria essential for decreased inflammation in the body, immune health, and digestion/gut health.  

Feta

Feta Cheese

Feta is typically made from sheep or goat’s milk. This is helpful for people who cannot digest lactose as it lacks this cow’s milk sugar and the cow’s milk protein casein. Therefore, people who cannot typically tolerate cow’s milk cheeses may find that feta cheese does not bother them.  

Feta cheese is a good choice for weight loss as it is typically lower in fat content and calories than other cheeses yet still very high in CLA and other nutrients. 

Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a good weight loss food because it is a rich source of protein with relatively low-fat content and calories. As noted previously, high-protein[9] foods are essential for weight loss as it increases satiety and fullness. However, cottage cheese is high in sodium, so be mindful of your portion sizes if you watch your sodium intake since it is recommended that we limit our sodium[10] to 2300 milligrams (mg) per day. One cup of one percent cottage cheese has about 115 mg of sodium. 

Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese

Blue cheese has a powerful and distinctive tangy flavor. Cheesemakers create this unique flavor by curdling milk using mold and rennet. 

Blue cheese is lower in fat and calories than other cheeses. In addition, due to its intense flavor, people tend to eat less high amounts of this cheese, which is beneficial in keeping portions small.  

An animal study[11] completed in 2013 showed that mice fed blue cheese daily were found to have a prompt reduction in inflammation and a boost in cellular renewal. 

Parmesan Cheese

is cheese good for weight loss

Parmesan[12] is an aged hard cheese. It is very high in nutrients that aid in bone health (phosphorus and calcium). A study[13] completed in 2014 showed that individuals who consumed higher amounts of phosphorus and calcium were associated with greater bone mass than others who did not consume as much phosphorus and calcium.  

Parmesan is also low in lactose[14]. This is because the aging process kills lactose. Therefore, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you might be able to tolerate parmesan with no issues.  

Many people wonder if cream cheese is good for weight loss. Cream cheese is full of fat and contains very little protein. Therefore, it isn’t the healthiest option. However, if you enjoy cream cheese and want it to be a regular part of your diet, consider keeping your consumption to one serving and pairing it with nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods such as vegetables.      

Risks Of Eating Too Much Cheese

Even though cheeses have many benefits, some risks are associated with eating cheese.  

Listeria

Soft cheeses can sometimes become infected with a foodborne bacteria called listeria[15]. Listeria infections are much more likely to occur in soft cheeses made with raw milk than in those made with pasteurized milk. Listeria can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and people aged 65 years and older. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[16] recommends that people only consume cheeses made with pasteurized milk.  

Calories, Fat, And Sodium

Even though cheese is high in nutrients, it also is very calorie dense. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, it is essential to watch your portion sizes. In addition, cheese is also high in saturated fat (typically called unhealthy fat), which can contribute to health conditions such as high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease. Because of this, you should be mindful again of portion sizes and enjoy cheese in moderation.  

Cheese is also typically high in sodium which some people need to avoid. For example, people with a history of high blood pressure should watch the label and pick lower sodium varieties such as baby swiss cheese or fresh mozzarella.  

Due to these factors, some people may choose to avoid cheese altogether. If you are unsure how cheese will affect your diet, talk to a registered dietitian or physician.  

Lactose Intolerance

Cheese contains a sugar called lactose. Many people have difficulties digesting this sugar and are therefore considered lactose intolerant. If you are lactose intolerant, your body lacks the necessary enzymes to break down this milk sugar. This intolerance causes digestive distress in the form of bloating, gas, and sometimes diarrhea. 

Often aged cheeses have less lactose and are easier for lactose-intolerant[17] people to digest. These cheeses include 

  • Brie
  • Parmesan
  • Provolone
  • Swiss cheese

How To Add Cheese To Your Diet In A Healthy Way?

The primary fact about cheese is that you need to watch the quantities you consume for the cheese to be a healthy option for weight loss. Most of the time, cheese is not good for your health. Adding saturated fat and sodium to your diet is typically not good when you want to eat healthier and shed a few pounds.  

However, cheese does have some good qualities that can be a part of a healthy diet. However, it is best to watch portion sizes. For example, the serving size is just one ounce for harder cheeses such as parmesan and cheddar cheese. That is equivalent to a one-inch by one-inch cube. For soft cheeses like ricotta cheese, one portion is a half-cup serving, whereas the serving size for cottage cheese is one cup. If you are unsure, check the nutrition facts label.  

Most experts suggest keeping your serving size of cheese to one per day. However, this becomes a problem at parties where charcuterie boards are having a moment. Also, when looking at a good diet to help you lose weight, remember that you can typically find the same nutritional benefits of cheese in other sources that contain healthier fats, such as wild-caught salmon.  

Summary

Most cheeses have a variety of nutrients and can offer several health benefits, such as heart health, cavity protection, and even decreased inflammation. They are also a good source of multiple nutrients, such as phosphorus, protein, and calcium.  

But some cheeses can be high in saturated fat and sodium. Therefore, it is imperative to keep portion sizes in mind and stick to one serving of cheese daily. If you are prone to overeating, consider another food high in nutrients and healthy fats, such as fatty fish.  

You can eat cheese without feeling guilty as a good addition to your balanced diet as long as portion controls are regarded.


+ 17 sources

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Alexandra Gregg

Written by:

Alexandra Gregg, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Alexandra Gregg is a registered and licensed dietitian with a private practice in Kansas City, Missouri. After studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Northwest Missouri State she completed her Dietetic Internship at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN. Following her dietetic internship, Allie worked at Mayo Clinic in a variety of areas including nutrition support, geriatrics, neonatology, and pediatrics. In addition, she was a regular presenter at Mayo Clinic conferences and an educator for dietetic interns.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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