April 18th

theresa albert - my friend in food


Cheese is a Condiment, not a Meal!


One of the Ace Your Health challenges is to begin to see cheese as a condiment, not a protein and certainly not a meal. Here is why:

  1. Fat. Many cheeses are so high in saturated fat that they make steak look like diet food. The body needs very little saturated fat and it may be contributing to our LDL cholesterol. What do you think “triple cream” brie means? It means that the cheese is 70 to 75 percent fat, which is as close to butter as a knife can get! We wouldn’t dream of scooping up hunks and wedges of butter to load onto our cracker. Even the most common, innocuous cheese, cheddar, is about 30 to 33 percent milk fat.
  2. Lack of nutrients per calorie. Cheese is extremely caloric and costly for what it delivers on nutrients. Unless it is a low-fat cheese, it contains as much or more fat as protein. The benefits like calcium, potassium, magnesium that cheese delivers can be obtained in less damaging foods.
  3. Salt. The process of making cheese requires a significant amount of sodium. For instance, one cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains about half a day’s worth of salt. Four small squares of cheddar, ditto. Salt and fat are much of what makes cheese so enticing, why we crave it and how it lures us into eating more.

So what’s a girl to do? I can’t avoid book club, cocktail parties, and baby showers forever! The trick is to stop thinking of cheese as a way of eating protein. It does have protein but the cost in calories, sodium, and saturated fat isn’t worth it.

  • Suss out cheeses like one made in the Netherlands called Cantenaar, which has 40 percent less fat and 25 percent less salt than other cheeses. It tastes a bit like Gouda but is not at all like some of  the rubbery low-fat alternative cheeses available, which are also high in salt.
  • Cheeses made with goat’s milk are naturally lower in fat and ridiculously tasty. Sodium varies by brand so choose one that is less than 200 milligrams per 50-gram serving.
  • Mitigate the amount of cheese per mouthful. Instead of having a hunk of cheese on a salty cracker, think about having a sliver of cheese on an apple slice or celery stick. You’ll eliminate the calories and salt from the cracker, add nutrients and fibre with the fruit, and consume less fat.

Have at it! See how our Ace Blogger Dave is doing with his cheesy challenge...

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert

I love food, try to watch my weight, know more than I want to about healthy living (sometimes I wish I knew less so I wouldn’t feel so guilty when I stumble), am a daughter, sister, friend, mom and wife who worries and scurries the meals onto the table. It is for all these reasons that I completed my nutrition, RNCP designation, wrote my book, hosted my Food Network show, consult with food companies to urge them to get it right (or at least better), constantly write about it, research it, all of this so I can cut through the nutrition and food “news” clutter. Happy to share with friends!


One Response

    Mary Fabiano
    July 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm Reply

    You’re killing me with this, but -gasp- I’ll try…

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