Say Cheese: The Health Benefits of Cheese

wisconsin cheese

Pioneers first started making cheese in Wisconsin in the 1830s, and it continues to have a significant impact on our economy today. Did you know that Wisconsin farmers produce over 3 billion pounds of cheese per year? This is more than any other state and accounts for 26% of all cheese made in the United States. In fact, if Wisconsin were a country, it would rank fourth in world cheese production, after the United States, France and Germany.

Cheese has several health benefits is a great source of protein and calcium. 1 ounce of cheese contains about 200 milligrams of calcium and 7 grams of protein. Since protein curbs hunger and keeps you feeling satisfied after meals and snacks, a moderate amount of cheese can help you to lose weight. As part of a well-rounded diet, the protein in cheese can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates eaten at the same meal or snack and therefore help balance your blood-sugar levels and improve mood.

The calcium in cheese and other dairy products helps to keep your bones and teeth strong and prevent osteoporosis. Most Americans do not receive an adequate amount of calcium in their diets. In fact, nine out of 10 women and six out of 10 men fall short of meeting calcium recommendations. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that individuals ages 9 and older consume at least 3 servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt per day. Cheese contains additional nutrients like zinc, phosphorus, biotin, vitamin A and Vitamin B-12. Furthermore, many cheeses, like cheddar and Swiss, are low in lactose, so even if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you will likely be able to enjoy cheese.

The problem with cheese is that it’s often high in saturated fat, calories and sodium, which in excess can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, high cholesterol, and weight gain. When purchasing cheese, you may want to look for lower fat and lower sodium varieties and limit portion sizes. One serving of cheese is equal to one and one-half ounces of hard cheese, one-third cup grated cheese, or two ounces processed cheese. Another way to cut back on calories is to grate hard cheeses over your meals or to use smaller amounts of sharp cheeses with stronger flavors.

Think of cheese as a flavor enhancer for your meals rather than the main attraction. One to two ounces of cheese daily is reasonable and provides your body with beneficial nutrients.

Eating Right While Dining Out

Image result for eating healthy at restaurants image

We all know that dining out isn’t the healthiest option, whether it’s at a sit down restaurant or fast food restaurant it often results in consuming many more calories than eating a meal at home. But, sometimes we can’t avoid eating out. Whether it’s time not allowing for a meal at home or we are dining out to visit with friends we don’t have to leave our healthy eating habits at the door!  Below are 5 tips to eat healthier while dining out.

1.    Large restaurants are required to provide nutritional information on their food products. Use these to your benefit, compare menu items you are considering and choose the option that is lower in calories, fat, and sodium.
2.    Incorporate a fruit or vegetable as a main or side dish. Just swapping out a side salad or fruit for French fries will save you nearly 300 calories! Be sure to ask for the salad dressing on the side so you can control the dressing portion size.
3.    Ask for small portions or put half of your meal in a to-go container right away to save for later. Most restaurant or fast food meals provide 700-1000 calories, by cutting the meal in half and saving it for later you save nearly 500 calories!
4.    Drink water instead of soda to save on extra calories. You could save nearly 300 calories with this simple swap! If you don’t like plain water, try adding a lemon slice for flavor.
5.    Take your time. Whether you are hitting up fast food because you are in a hurry or at a restaurant with friends, try to take time and enjoy your meal. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full, so try to take the full 20 minutes to eat your meal. People who take longer to eat tend to eat less while still remaining satisfied.