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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cheese anyone?

Who doesn’t like cheese? Cheese is one of those foods, like eggs, which has been completely banned on many a weight loss diet. We are happy to plug ourselves full of artificial sweetener and low fat snacks made with heaps of sugar but we get rid of the cheese? It doesn't really make any sense.

Like eggs, cheese is a food staple across a number of cultures, consumed by many in vast quantities without any apparent health consequences. The Italians like it aged and dry, the Greeks white and salty and the Scandinavian’s light but creamy. So is cheese really that bad for us?

For some foods, high fat does not necessarily mean a “bad” food. In fact, I find that the so called “low fat” cheeses are far less satisfying (as well as tasting like rubber), which leads people to actually eating more food in total! Cheese is a rich food, and yes high in fat but studies have shown that cheese does not increase blood cholesterol levels, which is quite possibly due to the fact that cheese is also a rich source of calcium, which may be acting to prevent that negative physiological response from dairy fat.

So which cheese should you choose? Generally, light (25% reduced fat) cheddar varieties taste as good as the full fat versions, with a little less fat but if you love nothing more than some Double Brie or Camembert, enjoy ~30g with some light wafer thin crackers a couple of times each week. My pick for day to day varieties is either Bega Vintage So Light (2 slices each day) OR Jarlsberg Light (Up to 4 slices each day) which act as a filling, protein rich addition to sandwiches, wraps and crackers.