Is it my imagination or is cheese consumption on the rise? Cheese seems to be in about everything we eat from appetizers to vegetables. No, it’s not my imagination. Americans are consuming an average 33 pounds of cheese a year – three times more than in 1970.
But that’s good, isn’t it? Cheese a healthy food – right? Let’s take a closer look. Yes, cheese is a good source of calcium and protein. Cheese is also a good source of fat, sodium, and cholesterol. On average, a one ounce of cheese (2 cubes or one slice) is about 120 calories and 70% fat, with nearly two thirds of the fat being the artery-clogging saturated fat. It has more sodium than a one ounce size bag of potato chips found in vending machines, and more cholesterol ounce for ounce than a baked chicken breast. According to the Physicians Center for Responsible Medicine, cheese is the #1 source of saturated fat in the American diet.
Are we eating more cheese? Yes. Is it a healthy food? No. The amount of fat, sodium, and cholesterol found in cheese is far worse than the amount of calcium and protein cheese provides. Better sources of calcium and protein include cooked spinach, broccoli, collards, beans, sesame seeds, fortified soy milk, lentils, vegetables, and beans. An additional benefit of these foods is they contain nutrients that will help our body fight disease.
Next time make a choice that will keep the arteries open and the blood pressure within normal range. Take a pass on the cheese and instead, add an extra helping of vegetables.