Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium and contains the same vitamins as milk.  It also helps to neutralise harmful acid in the mouth and prevent tooth decay.

Unfortunately most cheeses are very high in fat.  Furthermore, because they are aged products the fat in most cheese is worse than the saturated fats found in fresh dairy products such as milk, yogurt and fresh cheeses like cottage cheese.  Once fat is damaged it is much more harmful to health: promoting atherosclerosis (blocking up of the arteries with fatty plaques), raising your cholesterol levels, and high in free radicals which damage the cells of the body contributing to aging, cancer and other diseases.

This chart shows you how much fat is in one ounce of cheese (30g).  An ounce of cheese is actually very small, less than most people would put in a cheese sandwich!  It is about a cubic inch or the size of a Swan Vesta matchbox (see pic below).

This table was taken from: foodandhealth.communications

Cheese is also very high in salt.  Most people in the UK consume double the recommended maximum intake of 6g of salt per day.  High salt intake is a major factor in the development of high blood pressure which is a leading cause of death in the UK due to it’s strong links to strokes and heart attacks.

It is probably wise to try to limit one’s intake of cheese; to choose cheeses which are lower in fat such as low fat cream cheese or reduced fat cheddar, and to pick fresh cheeses which have less damaged fat such as cottage cheese, mozzarella and mascarpone over old cheeses like cheddar and brie.  Cooking with any cheese will further damage the fat it contains and is not a good idea.

You can get the same nutritional benefits i.e. the protein, calcium, vitamin A and D, B12, B1 and B2 from other fresh dairy products such as milk and yogurt.  Small fish where you eat the bones such as sardines and tinned salmon are an alternative excellent source of calcium and protein.

Vegetarian sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu and almonds.
Most people in the UK do not consume the recommended daily intake of calcium and it is worth thinking about how often you are consuming calcium rich foods and whether you need to increase your intake to ensure a healthy skeleton and strong bones and teeth later in life.

Here is a link to the International Osteoporosis Foundation’s online calcium intake calculator which is a great way to work out if you are getting enough calcium: