A smart guide to cooking with low-fat cheese

With virtually zero carbs and loads of protein, cheese is a "better blood sugar" food. It won't budge the blood sugar needle even a bit, and it will make you feel full. Cheese is also an excellent source of calcium, and studies show that getting plenty of calcium from food may help prevent insulin resistance, a harbinger of diabetes. Read on to learn everything you need to know about low-fat cheese.

A smart guide to cooking with low-fat cheese

Look for a low-fat cheese

  • According to a recent study, women who get plenty of calcium from dairy products also have a significantly lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is linked to both diabetes and heart disease.
  • Cheese is packed not only with calories but also with cheese's big "design flaw" — saturated fat, the kind that clogs arteries and reduces your body's sensitivity to insulin.
  • That's why it pays to choose lower-fat cheeses, such as low-fat cottage cheese, part-skim mozzarella, skim ricotta, cottage cheese and soft goat cheese. Otherwise, the drawbacks of cheese could easily outweigh its benefits.
  • Soft cheeses have less fat by weight than hard cheeses.

Cut calories with healthy cheese

  • A serving of cheese is a scant 30 grams (one ounce). For hard cheese, that's about the size of two board-game die.
  • Cheese calorie counts range from a low of about 72 per serving for part-skim mozzarella to a high of about 130 per serving for Parmesan.
  • When you do use a hard cheese like cheddar, you'll want to eat less of it and/or choose a low-fat version.
  • For snacking we suggest goat cheese sprinkled with herbs and drizzled with lemon juice. The acidic juice offers an added benefit, since the acid has the power to lower blood sugar.
  • Another way to cut cheese calories is to choose a strong-flavoured type like Parmesan, Romano, feta or Muenster.

Tips for reducing fatty cheeses in your diet

Cheese wouldn't be so bad if we didn't tend to use so much of it, but that's easy to remedy!

  • When making lasagna, you can use the usual amount of ricotta (part skim) and Parmesan but only half the mozzarella (part skim). Add a little extra spaghetti sauce to keep the lasagna moist.
  • For pizza, you can ask for half the cheese at any pizzeria.

Some health benefits you should know

  • If you think milk is good for you, consider this: it takes about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of milk to create 450 grams (one pound) of cheese, making it a concentrated source of all the good stuff in milk, including phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and calcium.
  • Probably because of their calcium content, low-fat dairy foods can also help bring down high blood pressure. (If you're a cottage cheese fan, though, note that it's one type of cheese that's not high in calcium.)
  • Cheese can even help prevent cavities, especially if you eat it after meals or as a between-meal snack.

The art of using low-fat cheese

  • Fat-free cheeses are best used as is (uncooked) for sandwiches and salads. They can be difficult to shred, so consider buying them shredded.
  • Don't melt low-fat cheeses under the broiler or in a toaster oven. They tend to toughen and get rubbery under direct heat. They do work, however, in casseroles and heated sandwiches and burgers.
  • To melt low-fat cheeses for sauces, use low heat and stir slowly in one direction. Cook for about 25 percent longer than you would to melt full-fat cheese.

Low-fat cheeses are tasty and nutritious. Keep this guide in mind and try cooking with healthy cheese today!

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