Cheese is an ancient food capable of raising passions for and against, with a universe of varieties and types so vast that we find specialties for all tastes. And in the same way that flavors, aromas and textures change, there are also differences in their nutritional properties, with very fatty cheeses and others much lighter.
Due to its association with other unhealthy foods or caloric dishes, such as hamburgers, sandwiches, pizzas or pasta, cheese has earned a certain bad reputation, when in itself it is a product very rich in high quality nutrients, whenever we talk about 100% authentic cheeses, and not mixes with butter, starches, cream and whey powder. It can only be labeled as cheese when it really is.
Speaking of labels, a look at the nutritional content of different varieties will highlight that idea that there are many very caloric, although it is always something relative. First of all, quantities matter, as well as the frequency of consumption and what we accompany it with.
In other words, adding 20 g of cured Manchego cheese to a green salad is not the same as eating a loin and bacon sandwich with several wedges of it. Of course, it also influences the own diet context, the lifestyle and caloric needs of each individual.
The science, on the other hand, increasingly points to the opposite of what was believed until years ago, that the consumption of whole dairy products does not have to cause overweight and that, in fact can have beneficial effects in cardiovascular health, as well as other benefits. Although the vast majority of studies in this area are observational, curious results are given, such as a lower rate of obesity among Basques who do consume cheese regularly.
Cheeses with less calories and less fat
All that said, cheese lovers will know that it is difficult to control yourself when there is a good product in front of you, and it is not uncommon to overeat without realizing too much. On a weight loss or weight control diet we can choose from the least caloric to enrich, for example, the typical salad and other dishes that we take in a container to work or that make us more than one dinner during the week.
The lightest cheeses will be those that have less fat, a factor, almost always, related to ripening. Most of the percentage of its fat content is indicated on the label, although it is not mandatory: the most caloric are classified as extra fatty (minimum 60% fat) and fatty (45-60%); lean cheeses will have less than 25% fat per 100 g.
1. Burgos type cheese or fresh white
The category of “Burgos cheese” is somewhat diffuse and it is currently being debated whether it is granted the creation of the Geographical Indication by the European Union. What cannot be doubted is his popularity as a salad ingredient and typical food precisely of diets, even more so in their versions Light.
Some manufacturers prefer to cure themselves in health by calling it, simply, White cheese, although imitating the presentation. It is a fresh cheese that can be made with cow’s milk or sheep’s milk -the most traditional-, depositing the curdled and filtered product in the typical tubs or molds to give it its characteristic shape and texture.
With such a variety of manufacturers and artisans we will also see differences in the nutritional content of each product, but, broadly speaking, it is a low calorie food, with less fat than most refrigerated cheeses and very high in protein. In addition to the light or light versions, we will also find it low in salt or lactose-free.
2. Fresh cheese
This generic denomination can include a wide variety of cheeses made with different types of milk, goat being one of the most popular. It is difficult to give a concrete nutritional estimate, but being an unripened cheese, its proportion of fat, calories and salt is very low.
These cheeses are very soft and those who cannot tolerate the intensity of curing tend to also like them. They have a great satiating capacity, are a source of high quality protein and offer great versatility when adding them to any dish, especially when cold. It is also possible to cook it on the grill to give it a point of caramelization and temperature.
3. Fresh or tender goat cheese
We are facing another vague naming which refers to the presentation format, almost always linked to a French-style goat’s milk cheese, with or without rind, to be cut into medallions and which must also be kept refrigerated.
Turned into a fashionable complement to salads sadly seasoned with cloying vinaigrettes and balsamic vinegar substitutes, it has to be claimed for its own sake. delightful taste and the ability to transform the simplest dish, also adding good nutrients without excess calories.
It is advisable, yes, to check labels and choose a cheese roll cooler or tender, which are less fatty, and compare ingredients and nutritional content. We can easily find curlers with just 250 kcal per 100 g and less than 20 g of fat, which in small individual portions is still a very light cheese. Those made 100% with goat’s milk and without rind are usually lighter and softer.
4. Feta cheese
On Direct to the Palate We’ve been passionate about feta cheese long before the tomato pasta sauce recipe went viral. It is a fresh cheese originating in Greece canned in brine whose nutritional content can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, although in general it is a lean cheese.
It is advisable to look closely at the label to choose an authentic feta from Greece, which are usually identified with certification of origin stamp European. The brine makes it a cheese with a more intense flavor than other fresh ones, with a higher content of salt; If the supermarket has several brands, we can compare the fat and salt content to choose from.
5. Cottage cheese
For gastronomic and practical purposes we consider it a cheese, but being strict it is more of a dairy derivative, easy to make at home. Cottage cheese is produced from the fermented whey that separates from the milk after the action of the rennet. Is very rich in protein, soft and moist texture, slightly grainy, with a mild slightly sweet flavor.
Although the consistency and fat content may vary depending on the manufacturer and the type of milk used, it usually barely exceeds 100 kcal per 100 g of edible portion, but it is very satiating for its protein content and humidity. It can be added to all kinds of dishes, being ideal for enriching salads, vegetables, stir-fries, spoon dishes, sandwiches and sandwiches.
Often compared to cottage cheese, as they share many properties and characteristics, Italian ricotta is made in a very similar way. As its own name already indicates, to prepare it the whey is cooked again to extract the coagulated flakes, which are then compacted in a mold.
There are different types of ricotta and also their composition can vary greatly from one manufacturer to another. In general, it is usually somewhat more caloric than cottage cheese, because some cream is often added to make it more creamy and honeyed. It is used more as an ingredient in sauces, pasta and desserts, to provide that creaminess, like a thick yogurt.
7. Cottage cheese
Similar to cottage cheese and also reminiscent of ricotta, cottage is a fresh cheese made by enzymatic coagulation, that is, rennet is added to milk so that its enzymes break down the milk proteins, forming the characteristic clots that identify it.
Spongy and creamy, very smooth with a neutral flavor, it is very rich in protein, low in carbohydrates and with very little fat. The exact composition and texture may vary depending on the manufacturer, but in general it is a moist cheese that can add a freshness and juiciness to salads, creams and purees, fillings, sauces, pasta dishes or stews.
8. Mozzarella cheese
The BEDCA gives the popular Italian cheese about 223 kcal per 100 g of edible portion, with about 16 g of fat and almost 20 g of protein. It is an average estimate that makes us verify that the protagonist of pizzas and pastas is a good option to consume from time to time and make much more filling and nutritious light dishes such as salads or vegetables.
It must be remembered that the authentic mozzarella with Protected Designation of Origin is the only one that can be labeled as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, with the European certification seal. This is made with fresh buffalo milk, but we also find cow variants that mimic the texture of spun pasta and are also marketed in serum.
If we are particularly concerned about calorie content, it is easy to find versions Light mozzarella-style cheese, with less fat but also a good protein intake. Of course, they are much less tasty.
9. Halloumi cheese
Cypriot specialty plus firm and elastic Like feta, halloumi can also be tasted directly, added fresh to any dish that we want to enrich with a food with a higher energy density and protein, or previously cooked.
It is one of the most popular cheeses when it comes to cooking grilled or even grilled or barbecue, as it preserves its shape very well without falling apart or breaking, creating a light caramelized crunchy outer layer. Although more caloric, it is at the limit of what is considered lean cheeses, and its final nutritional content is highly dependent on the manufacturer.
Bonus ball: homemade labneh
If cottage cheese and ricotta are not really cheeses, labneh even less so, but we cannot fail to recommend it as a delicious and versatile product that is very easy to make at home. We just need quality yogurt, come out and some patience.
Here we explain in detail its preparation, which basically consists of eliminating the maximum possible -or desirable- moisture from the natural yogurt to give it a more solid consistency and creamy. The better the yogurt and the longer we leave it to drain, the firmer it will be.
A couple of days in the fridge will give us a labneh more consistent perfect for forming balls that we can coat in seeds and add to salads, vegetable dishes, legumes, purees and creams, etc. It can also be spread on toasts, flatbreads, sandwiches or sandwiches, or served as hummus.
Photos | Marco Verch – Jules – iStock – Unsplash
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