Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman — Should I Be Eating Low Or Nonfat Cheese?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet, and health questions.

Want to know which foods to curb sugar cravings? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything!

Keri will choose one great question a week to be answered Thursday in our Healthy Hollywood column.

To submit questions for Keri, click HERE!

This week’s question…

“I have been eating so much cheese at summer cocktail parties and I know it is sooo fattening. Should I be eating the low or nonfat versions instead?” Kelly S., New York

Keri says…

I hear ya! Who doesn’t just love cheese? First of all, nothing is “fattening” if you do not over consume it. Breathe a sigh of relief, you can eat your cheese. But, keep a few things in mind. Here is a little cheese overview for you.

Whether you’ve eaten it sprinkled over your salad, melted it into your sandwich, or enjoyed it plain during cocktail hour, everyone has likely come across it in some way, shape or form – and loved it! Cheese is an umbrella term for a range of milk-based foods that are produced with different flavors, consistencies, smells, and colors. Many different types of cheese exist, partially because they come from the milk of different animals. Buffalo mozzarella is made from the milk of the water buffalo, while feta and ricotta usually come from sheep’s milk.

Are there any health benefits to cheese?

There are two sides to every story and cheese is no exception! Let’s start with the positive side. Cheese is a great source of calcium, protein and phosphorus. One serving of cheese will typically give you between 10 to 25 percent of your daily calcium needs. Many people who skimp on milk and yogurt help meet their calcium needs via cheese. The other side of the story is that cheese is generally high in calories, sodium and saturated fat. However, if you choose your cheese wisely a little bit of it goes a long way. Choose flavorful cheese like feta or blue and you do not need much of it to make a scrumptious meal (add to an omelet, baked potato, salad or veggie burger) and it also helps satisfy you, helping to reduce cravings and over-consuming later.

What about low and fat-free processed cheese?

Low fat cheese is made from 2 percent fat milk and can be an OK option if you use cheese regularly on sandwiches or burgers. Fat-free cheese? This is a definite pass! These types of cheese are made from cheese with the addition of preservatives, emulsifiers and coloring. Not only are these chemical additions just downright yuck, they don’t taste good! Talk about not satisfying you!

I say, stick with a portion of the real thing. As I mentioned, a little bit goes a long way. Different cheeses will vary in calorie and fat content so go for the naturally lower cal options. Cow’s milk cheeses like cheddar and brie are higher in saturated fat and calories versus cheeses like feta and ricotta. 1 oz. of cheddar cheese has 9.4 grams of fat while 1 oz. of feta has 6 grams. So rather than indulging in multiple slices of packaged processed cheese, try portioning out the real thing, eat slowly and enjoy for its true flavor.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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