Cheese is rich in essential nutrients, such as amino acids, protein, fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals, but not all cheeses have the same nutritional benefits. Some cheeses are healthier than others, and some are lower in calories and fat.

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Cheese is a dairy product that is made from milk and milk products. It has a wide range of flavors and textures and is a staple food in many cultures.

Cheese can be the product of the milk of cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo, among other animals.

This article lists the eight healthiest cheeses and the cheeses a person may want to avoid if they are looking for a healthy option. It gives the nutritional data based on 21 g portions, which is roughly 1 medium slice or portion.

Learn how many calories a person should eat daily here.

Mozzarella is a soft cheese that was first made in Italy. It is usually made from buffalo or cow’s milk.

Mozzarella is relatively low in fat and calories. This makes it a healthier cheese option compared to others.

ContentsAmount per 21 grams (g)
Energy62.6 kcal
Protein4.98 g
Carbohydrates0.932 g
Fat4.28 g
Sodium147 milligrams (mg)
Calcium146 mg

Mozzarella contains probiotics such as the bacteria Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus fermentum.

As a 2019 study revealed, Lactobacillus fermentum is great for a person’s immune system, can prevent upper respiratory infections, and can reduce a person’s blood cholesterol.

Learn about probiotics here.

Cheddar is a semi-hard cheese that originated in England. It is made from cow’s milk.

Cheddar is higher in fat, calories, and sodium compared to other cheeses. However, its vitamin content can bring many health benefits.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy85.7 kcal
Protein4.89 g
Carbohydrates0.512 g
Fat7.14 g
Sodium137 mg
Calcium148 mg

Cheddar is rich in vitamin K, especially in full fat form.

According to a 2015 review, studies have found that 5 mg of vitamin K a day can reduce the chances of bone fractures in females by 50%, and their cancer risk by 75%.

Vitamin K is also good for heart health, as vitamin K2 can prevent or reverse calcification in the arteries.

Learn about vitamin K here.

Ricotta is a soft Italian cheese that is made from whey in leftover milk from the production of other cheeses.

Ricotta cheese is much lower in calories and fat than other cheeses.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy31.08 kcal
Protein2 g
Carbohydrates1.26 g
Fat1.98 g
Sodium21.42 mg
Calcium52.08 mg

Ricotta is made from whey protein, which can significantly decrease cholesterol, including harmful LDL cholesterol, according to a 2020 study.

Whey protein may also have anti-cancer effects, according to a 2014 study. Alpha-lactalbumin is a whey protein found in milk that has been found to selectively target and kill cancer cells.

Find out more about whey protein here.

Goat cheese is made from goat milk. It has a tangy taste and soft texture.

A 21 g portion of goat cheese is low in calories, but relatively high in fat compared with other cheeses.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy76.4 kcal
Protein4.53 g
Carbohydrates0.025 g
Fat6.27 g
Sodium87.2 mg
Calcium62.6 mg

According to a 2017 study, the oligosaccharides in goat milk provide the stomach with beneficial bacteria to help it protect the body against illnesses.

It is also a rich source of vitamin A, which keeps the eyes healthy and promotes vision in low light conditions.

Learn about vitamin A here.

Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Although feta is higher in sodium than other cheeses, it is lower in calories.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy55.6 kcal
Protein2.98 g
Carbohydrates0.815 g
Fat4.51 g
Sodium239 mg
Calcium104 mg

Feta is a very nutritious cheese, with 100 g providing 337 mg of phosphorus, which is half of the 700 mg daily recommendation for adults of both sexes.

Phosphorus and calcium are both important for bone and dental health.

Learn about phosphorus here.

Swiss cheese comes from Switzerland. It is made from cow’s milk. Gas bubbles, produced by bacteria that help to turn milk into cheese, form all over the cheese and create its characteristic holes.

Swiss cheese is a low-calorie cheese, as it only takes up 4% of a person’s daily calorie allowances. It is relatively low in fat and sodium.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy82.5 kcal
Protein5.67 g
Carbohydrates0.302 g
Fat6.51 g
Sodium38.8 mg
Calcium187 mg

Swiss cheese is a good source of protein. Protein is important for muscle and bone health.

Swiss cheese also contains Lactobacillus helveticus, which is a type of lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus helveticus has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may prevent diseases as well as reduce fatigue and muscle damage.

Learn about lactic acid in food here.

Blue cheese is made from Penicillum mold cultures. It has a strong taste and smell and has blue veins running through it.

According to the National Health Service, a person should only consume up to 2.4 g of sodium per day, which is equal to about 1 teaspoon. Blue cheese is high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy74.1 kcal
Protein4.49 g
Carbohydrates0.491 g
Fat6.04 g
Sodium241 mg
Calcium111 mg

Blue cheese is rich in calcium, with just one slice providing 11% of the daily recommended amount for an adult aged between 19 and 50.

Calcium is known for keeping bones healthy and promoting bone strength as a person ages. It also helps the blood clot normally.

Learn about calcium here.

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese with a mild flavor and creamy texture. It is made from curdled cow’s milk.

Cottage cheese is very low in calories and fat.

ContentsAmount per 21 g
Energy17.64 kcal
Protein2.3 g
Carbohydrates0.91 g
Fat0.48 g
Sodium67.41 mg
Calcium21.63 mg

Cottage cheese is rich in vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 helps to keep the nerve and blood cells healthy.

Getting enough vitamin B-12 can also help prevent megaloblastic anemia, which makes people feel tired and weak.

Learn about vitamin B-12 here.

  • Low in salt: The following cheeses are low in salt:
    • Swiss cheese
    • cottage cheese
    • ricotta
  • High in calcium: The following cheeses are high in calcium:
    • blue cheese
    • Swiss cheese
    • feta
    • mozzarella
  • High in protein: The following cheeses are high in protein:
    • cottage cheese
    • blue cheese
    • Swiss cheese
    • goat cheese
    • mozzarella
  • For gut health: The following cheeses contain probiotics:
  • Lactose intolerance: According to a 2019 study, some people with lactose intolerance can tolerate cheese with little or no lactose. The following cheeses contain little or no lactose:
    • gouda
    • parmesan
    • cheddar
    • Swiss cheese

In pregnancy

Unpasteurized cheeses may not be safe to eat during pregnancy, as pregnant people are 10 times more likely to get listeriosis, which is food poisoning from bacteria that can grow in unpasteurized milk.

While soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, and feta are often pasteurized in the U.S., it’s important to check the label to be sure.

The following cheeses are good options for a pregnant person:

  • cheddar
  • mozzarella
  • goat cheese
  • cottage cheese
  • ricotta
  • halloumi

A person should avoid the following types of cheese if they wish to keep their fat or sodium intake low:

  • halloumi
  • brie
  • camembert
  • parmesan
  • mascarpone

There are thousands of different types of cheese and they all vary in their nutritional content and health benefits.

Some cheeses, such as cottage cheese, are very healthy because they are low in calories and fat but high in calcium. Others contain a lot of sodium and should only be eaten in small amounts.

If a person has particular health goals and wants to enjoy cheese as part of their diet, they should research the nutritional contents of the cheeses they like to make sure they are suitable for their diet.