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Can you imagine a creamy pasta alfredo without a generous helping of Parmesan cheese, or a deep crust pizza without mozzarella cheese. I bet you cannot imagine such a thing. Cheese is one of the main ingredient in many of our beloved pasta and pizza dishes. It is also an essential ingredient in many sauces and gravies. But is cheese healthy? The fact is that cheeses are fattening and will contribute to an ever-expanding waistline. Too much consumption of cheese will lead to heart diseases and obesity as well as high blood pressure. Does that mean that you should lay off cheese altogether? No, most definitely not. You only need to make healthy cheese choices and make sure that you exercise portion control; while having these delectable treats.

Healthy Cheese to Eat

Making healthy food choices makes sense, because it not only helps you to maintain an ideal body weight, but also helps you to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and prevent lifestyle related diseases like hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases. One of the food groups that we consume in excess is dairy, particularly cheese. There are many kinds of cheese and these cheeses are used in sauces, Italian pastas, pizzas, casseroles, sandwiches, soups, quiches and tarts, which add up to a lot of calories. To make these dishes more healthier, you need to make healthy cheese choices. Given below are some ways in which you can make healthy choices.
  • Substitute low fat version of your favorite cheeses for preparing dishes like soups and cheese sauce. Some cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar and Swiss cheese often come in low fat versions that are a healthier option as they contain less fat and fewer calories. However, you should remember that low fat version of cheeses have a milder taste and flavor than the full fat version.
  • If you do not want to compromise on the flavor by using low fat cheese in your dishes, then why not consider using goat's cheese. Healthy cheese choices in goat's cheese include feta cheese, Bucheron cheese and Caprino cheese. This type of goat's cheese has a bit of tangy flavor, which makes it ideal for adding it to salads. It is a kind of crumbly white cheese and although it packs quite a punch with its hint of tanginess, it is quite low in fat as well as calories compared to other types of cheeses. Feta and Caprino cheese however is quite crumbly in texture and does not melt like mozzarella when heated. This makes it quite ineffective to be used in pizzas where a stringy melting texture is desired.
  • For pizzas, replace mozzarella with fat free Parmesan and fat free mozzarella cheese. You will get the same melting texture without the excess calories. If you absolutely need the same flavor as full fat cheese than you can use half fat free and half full fat cheese in your pizza.
  • Did you know that cream cheese that you use in your breakfast bagel, has one of the highest percentages of fat? To replace cream cheese, you can use skimmed ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese have lower fat content than cream cheese. However, they can be a bit on the blander side. You can add some herbs like dill, basil and chives to ricotta and cottage cheese to impart more flavor.
  • The cheese spread that you use in your sandwiches and paninis is loaded with calories and trans fats. To reduce the amount of calories, make your own cheese spread at home by using fat free cottage cheese with just a small amount of a strong flavored cheese like blue cheese or sharp cheddar. This kind of cheese spread is much more healthier than any store-bought variety.
  • Although it is high in fat, there are many health benefits of having cheese. Cheese is a natural source of calcium and it also contains good amounts of zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. Some of the most healthy cheese are Brie, Camembert and Parmesan cheese. The best thing about these cheeses is that they are not only low in fat and calories, but because they have a strong flavor, a little goes a long way.
  • The cheeses that are loaded with fat are cream cheese, Mascarpone and blue cheese. Limit the use of such cheeses and indulge in them occasionally. Heart healthy cheese are low fat ricotta, feta and cottage cheese.
It is very important to make these healthy choices while cooking so that you can control the amount of fats and calories you consume from cheeses. Use grated cheese instead of sliced cheese, as this lets you control the amount of cheese you add to your dish. Making a conscious decision to substitute regular cheese with healthy and low fat cheese will keep you fit.