Cheese is a popular dairy staple that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a delicious ingredient in meals and snacks, from cheddar in morning omelettes to provolone cheese in a lunch sandwich, cherry tomatoes with mozzarella as a Mediterranean-inspired snack, and parmesan with a butterfly pasta dinner. Hard cheese lovers can often find themselves drawn to this tasty dairy staple, which can lead someone to wonder about the potential effects of eating cheese every day.
Besides enhancing the flavor and texture of your favorite foods, cheese is also packed with nutrients. It is a good source of high-quality protein and calcium, as well as providing many other nutrients and bioactive compounds, such as magnesium and vitamin B12. On the other hand, cheese also adds a significant amount of sodium, saturated fat, and calories to your daily diet. There is also a lot of misinformation about cheese on the internet, which may make you wary about eating it. It’s often listed as a major source of saturated fat, difficult to digest, and blamed for everything from skin rashes to diabetes.
To help set the record straight, here’s what happens to your body if you eat cheese every day. Plus, for more healthy eating tips on this dairy-based delight, be sure to check out 5 Cheeses You Can Still Eat If You Have High Cholesterol, Dietitians Say.
You will increase the calcium in your diet
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 30 percent of men and 60 percent of women don’t get enough calcium in their diets, and 75 percent of us don’t meet the daily dairy recommendations of three servings a day or 1,000 mg of calcium. per day. Calcium helps keep bones healthy, but research also shows it can help prevent types of cancer, can lower blood pressure, help prevent preeclampsia and can help you maintain a healthy weight, according to a review conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
A 1.5-ounce serving of cheese provides 115 to 350 milligrams of calcium, depending on the variety, according to dietary guidelines. In the United States, about 72 percent of calcium intake comes from dairy products and foods with added dairy ingredients, says NIH. Hard cheeses have the most calcium due to their lower water content, making them more nutrient dense. Additionally, a 1.5-ounce serving of cheddar contains 305 milligrams of calcium, or one-third of what an average adult needs in a day.
It may not agree with your stomach
According to the NIH, about 68 percent of the world’s population suffers from some type of lactose malabsorption, which occurs when the body can’t fully digest lactose, the main carbohydrate found in milk and dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, cheese can cause stomach upset after eating it and lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
The good news is that cheese is significantly lower in lactose than milk and yogurt. Hard and aged cheeses are the lowest in lactose and are generally well tolerated in small quantities. Cheeses with the lowest lactose content and generally well-tolerated include Parmesan, Swiss, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Cheddar, Brie, Camembert, and Edam. Cheeses with the highest amount of lactose include cottage cheese and cream cheese.
You will likely improve your gut microbiome
You probably know that yogurt with live, active cultures is one of the best ways to stock up on beneficial bacteria that help improve your microbiome and immune and gastrointestinal system health, but many varieties of soft and hard cheeses, including cheddar, Edam , feta, Parmesan, Swiss, provolone, gouda and gruyere provide probiotics. Probiotics are mostly found in unpasteurized aged cheeses. Some cheesemakers even add probiotics to their cheese. For example, Babybel Plus + Probiotic reportedly has one billion live, active cultures per serving.
Research is still ongoing to better understand the quantity and viability of bacteria survival during cheesemaking, but to date a study published in Journal of Functional Foods explains how cheese can survive digestion and colonize in the gastrointestinal tract to confer health benefits.
It could reduce the risk of heart disease
While whole cheese is a significant source of saturated fat, you might think it may increase your risk of coronary heart disease, but research suggests otherwise. A study reported in the Lancet, which included 135,000 participants in 21 countries, found no correlation between dairy intake, including cheese, and risk of heart disease or major coronary events. In fact, the study reported that those who reported eating more than one serving of full-fat or low-fat dairy products per day had a reduced risk of heart disease, a heart attack, or death from heart disease.
Another study reported in the European Journal of Nutrition collected data from 15 large population-based studies with more than 200,000 subjects total. Their findings also reported an inverse relationship between cheese consumption and cardiovascular disease. Those who ate cheese frequently were up to 18% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, up to 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease, and up to 10% less likely to have a stroke than those who did not. or they had low cheese intake. The authors suggest that 1.4 ounces of cheese per day may be optimal for heart health benefits.
It can help muscles recover after exercise
Endurance and strength athletes often rely on protein supplements to promote muscle recovery and provide strength and endurance gains. Milk is a high quality protein with all nine essential amino acids. Research confirms that the whey and casein proteins in milk can improve recovery after exercise and help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Cheese is primarily composed of casein, a slow-digesting protein that also promotes protein synthesis after exercise. Whey is a fast-acting protein that is commonly taken right after strenuous exercise, while casein is generally recommended before bed.
A recent study reported in Journal of Nutrition found that among 20 healthy male strength athletes they reported that 30 grams of protein from cheese improved muscle protein synthesis, the same as taking 30 grams of protein from milk. If you’re active and want to help your muscles recover after strenuous exercise, enjoy two ounces of cheese or half a cup of cottage cheese as part of a bedtime snack.
Cheese can be a healthy addition to a balanced eating pattern, but it’s important to keep serving size in mind, as cheese is high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. Make sure you pair cheese with other healthy foods and ingredients like whole grains, nuts, greens, and salad.
It could blow your daily calorie budget
Most cheese lovers have one major problem with cheese consumption: they eat too much of it. Cheese is nutritious, but it’s also high in calories, making it easy to overeat. An ounce of the harder cheese, like cheddar, has about 100 to 125 calories, depending on the variety. It’s easy to eat 3-4 ounces in one sitting, whether as a snack or part of a main course.
Consider that most blocks of cheese sold in supermarkets are 8 oz. Keep this in mind to help you keep cheese portions in check. Grating cheese is a great way to enhance the cheesy deliciousness of your favorite dishes, allowing you to use less for the same great taste. Try grating hot, spicy cheeses, such as pecorino-romano or parmigiano-reggiano to flavor foods and dishes, as you can use far less of them than with a milder variety.