Here’s the low down on what you need to know about looking good and feeling great this festive season, without compromising on the fun and deliciousness of cheese – you can thank us later!
Cheese is part of the ‘dairy food group’ for a reason - it’s good for you
Cheese often receives a bad rap because it is a source of saturated fat, but science shows that not only is cheese not harmful for our health, it’s actually beneficial.
For starters, it’s jam-packed with essential vitamins and nutrients; it’s an excellent source of calcium for bone health, is high in protein and contains vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorous and zinc.
In fact, when comparing a serve of milk and yoghurt with a slice of cheddar cheese, cheese has more than three times the amount of protein, less than half the carbohydrate, more than three times the calcium, less than half the lactose and the highest magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B2 content.
While you might find some of those nutrients elsewhere - it's important to think of cheese as a natural whole food, it's the particular blend of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and other bioactive compounds and the way they interact with one another, that contribute to its unique benefits. And that's pretty special.
You can eat cheese if you’re trying to lose weight
Yes, you heard right. You can have your (cheese) cake and eat it too; well, perhaps not quite but you can certainly enjoy some creamy camembert, ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella and bocconcini – as part of a balanced diet without the worry. Research shows consumption of three to four daily serves of dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt (including regular fat varieties), as part of a balanced diet is not linked to weight gain.
What’s more, studies conclude that eating three to four daily serves of milk, cheese or yoghurt as part of a calorie-restricted diet can lead to greater weight and fat loss compared to a calorie restricted diet without the dairy. The increased dairy diet can also aid greater loss of fat around the tummy specifically and assist in the building of lean muscle mass.
There’s no such thing as bad cheese – it’s all good
When it comes to cheese we are spoilt for choice! Each variety has a different flavour and use as well as a unique mix of nutrients:
Ricotta is a delicious base for sweet or savoury dishes. Ricotta contains 11 per cent fat and low-fat ricotta contains less than three per cent fat It’s also a great source of whey protein (11g per 100g), which can help tired muscles recover after exercise. Ricotta digests really quickly in our bodies and provides an ideal mix of quality amino acids for lean muscle development.
Cottage cheese is the ultimate light cheese (with just three per cent fat), because it contains around 75 per cent water, but remains a great source of protein.
Mozzarella is one of Australia’s favourite cheeses (thanks to our love of all things Italian) and packs a protein punch – 17g per 100g to be exact! Fresh varieties are perfect to include on a summer cheese platter and the bonus is they contain around half the fat of hard cheeses like cheddar.
Camembert is a delicious and indulgent cheese that is a must for entertaining. Nothing beats a creamy camembert! It’s so ridiculously delicious, that it can be easy to forget that it still contains all the same essential nutrients as other dairy foods, including calcium and protein (18g per 100g) and virtually no carbohydrates. You might also like to know that it actually contains less fat than blue cheese or cheddar. Now we’re not talking about double or triple cream varieties, but a little of the regular stuff is certainly not a bad thing.
Labne is so on trend right now, and with good reason! It’s made from strained yoghurt and is a high moisture cheese which makes it naturally lower in fat. Because it’s made from yoghurt, it comes with all the health benefits yoghurt brings – and is absolutely delicious.
For more information on entertaining with Australian cheese this festive season, visit Legendairy and and download your free copy of Cheese Please! – your complete guide to choosing, storing and serving Australian cheese.