Cheese On Mediterranean Diet

When it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, feta cheese often takes the spotlight. But is this popular cheese actually healthy? Let’s delve into the nutritional benefits and potential concerns surrounding feta.

Cheese On Mediterranean Diet
Cheese On Mediterranean Diet

A Nutrient-Dense Choice

Feta cheese, originating from Greece, is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk and is considered a fresh cheese as it is not aged or cured. Despite its creamy texture, feta is surprisingly nutrient-dense. In just one ounce (28 grams), you’ll find approximately 74 calories, six grams of fat, four grams of protein, and a gram of carbohydrates. Feta also contains essential vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, selenium, vitamin B6, and zinc.

Compared to aged cheeses like cheddar or Parmesan, feta is lower in fat and calories. A one-ounce serving of cheddar or Parmesan contains over 110 calories and seven grams of fat, whereas feta only has 74 calories and six grams of fat. Additionally, feta boasts higher levels of calcium and B vitamins compared to other fresh cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, or goat’s cheese.

Supporting Bone Health

Calcium, phosphorus, and protein, which are abundant in feta cheese, are key players in promoting bone health. Adequate intake of calcium and protein helps maintain bone density and prevents conditions like osteoporosis. Phosphorus aids in the absorption of calcium, ensuring your bones receive the necessary nutrients to stay strong. Feta’s calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is advantageous for bone health, providing nearly twice as much calcium as phosphorus. Additionally, sheep and goat milk contain more calcium and phosphorus than cow’s milk, making feta an excellent choice for meeting your daily calcium needs.

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A Friend to Your Gut

Feta cheese has been found to contain lactobacillus plantarum, a strain of friendly bacteria known for its positive impact on the immune system and gut health. These beneficial bacteria protect the intestinal tract from harmful bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. Studies suggest that lactobacillus plantarum also aids in reducing inflammation, providing valuable anti-inflammatory benefits. By incorporating feta into your diet, you can potentially enhance your gut health.

Potential Concerns

While feta offers numerous health benefits, there are a couple of factors to keep in mind. Firstly, feta cheese is relatively high in sodium. Each one-ounce serving contains 312 milligrams of sodium, contributing to approximately 13% of the recommended daily intake. If you are sensitive to salt or advised to limit your sodium intake, it is best to consume feta in moderation. You can reduce the salt content by soaking the cheese in water beforehand.

Secondly, due to its production process, feta cheese typically contains a significant amount of lactose. For individuals with lactose intolerance, it is advisable to avoid fresh cheeses like feta.

Lastly, certain types of feta can carry Listeria, a bacteria that thrives in fresh cheeses with high moisture content. Pregnant women are advised to steer clear of foods with a high Listeria risk, including raw vegetables, raw meats, and unpasteurized dairy. Consequently, pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized feta made from raw milk.

Enjoy Feta in Moderation

Compared to many other cheese varieties, feta proves itself as a nutritious option that is low in calories and fat. Its potential gut health benefits, along with its contribution to bone health, make it a viable addition to most diets. However, individuals with sodium sensitivity or lactose intolerance should exercise caution. Pregnant women should opt for pasteurized feta to mitigate any Listeria risk.

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Discover a delicious array of dishes featuring feta cheese and experience its unique flavors firsthand. Incorporate feta into your Mediterranean-inspired meals, snacks, and even desserts. For more culinary inspiration, visit our website and explore our diverse selection of recipes. Stay healthy and enjoy the taste of the Mediterranean with feta!

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