7 cheese facts that will surprise you (2024)

7 cheese facts that will surprise you (1)

From "cheese addiction" to whether goats' cheese is better for you, we reveal the truth behind popular cheese misconceptions.

Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium but is often high in saturated fat and salt. This means eating too much could lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In the UK, the standard portion size is 30g (the size of a small matchbox or two-and-a-half dominoes).

Your daily diet should feature three 30g portions of dairy products, and cheese alone won’t do. It’s fine to enjoy it sensibly though. Here’s how:

1. MYTH: I should give up cheese completely


You don’t have to cut cheese out of your diet, but if you have high cholesterol or blood pressure, use high-fat cheeses sparingly. A 30g portion of cheese provides seven per cent of your daily calories and there can be more salt in a portion of cheddar than in a packet of crisps.

Keep cheese portions small and weigh them to reduce temptation

Some types of roquefort, halloumi, feta and cheese singles are saltier than seawater. Cheese contains calcium and protein, so it can be OK in moderation, but remember: low-fat yoghurt, tinned fish, tofu, lentils and beans are good sources of calcium and protein too.

Keep cheese portions small and weigh them to reduce temptation. Using lower-fat cheeses – such as mozzarella, feta, cottage cheese or reduced-fat cheeses – will provide less saturated fat. Our table at the end of the page shows how the fat content of different cheeses compares.

  • Get more detail about the fat and salt content of different cheeses in our guide to "The good, the bad and the ugly" of cheeses.

Cooking from scratch helps too, as convenience foods often contain higher-fat cheeses. Take time to stop and ask if your dish really needs cheese at all.

Want to get fit and healthy?

Sign up to our fortnightly Heart Matters newsletter to receive healthy recipes, new activity ideas, and expert tips for managing your health. Joining is free and takes two minutes.

I’d like to sign-up

2. MYTH: Reduced-fat cheese is rubbish


It’s a common misconception that reduced fat equals reduced flavour. Experiment with different brands to find one you like.

Remember: ‘reduced fat’ isn’t necessarily ‘low fat’, it just means 25 per cent less fat than the original. Check the label to see whether the fat content is high (more than 17.5g/100g), medium (3.1–17.5g/100g) or low (3g or less/100g).

You can also cook and bake with reduced-fat cheese, although reduced-fat varieties of hard cheeses may take longer to melt. Grate it finely and melt over a low heat. Sometimes these cheeses produce a skin when baked or grilled, so add them near the end of the baking time.

3. MYTH: I’m addicted to cheese


Research suggests that casein – a protein found in dairy products and highly concentrated in cheese –releases opiates called casomorphins as it digests. These opiates can signal comfort to the brain indirectly via hormones.

However, a review by the European Food Safety Authority questioned whether casomorphins can be transferred through the intestine to the bloodstream or brain.

If you eat a lot of cheese, you may become accustomed to the salty flavour or the habit of having it at a certain time of day, so be aware of patterns in your eating and reduce your intake gradually.

4. MYTH: I need cheese to keep my bones strong


Cheese is a good source of calcium: a 30g portion of cheddar provides over a quarter of an adult’s daily requirements. However, other dairy products, such as yoghurt and milk, are just as good for the bones and much lower in fat and salt.

Cheese also contains a small amount of vitamin D, the fat-soluble vitamin that helps us absorb calcium from food. Lower-fat dairy products such as semi-skimmed milk do not contain as much vitamin D as fuller-fat cheese, but eggs, oily fish and fortified cereals (providing they’re low in sugar) are better sources anyway.

5. MYTH: Goat’s cheese is better for me than cow’s cheese


Soft goat’s cheese contains about 26g of fat per 100g, similar to brie and edam, and about as much salt as camembert. Goat’s cheese is considered a ‘high-fat’ product – mozzarella and ricotta are lower in fat, as is feta, which traditionally is made from sheep's milk or sheep and goat's milk. (See our table at the end of this page for a comparison of the fat content of different cheeses).

Goat’s cheese is touted as being better for people with lactose intolerance than soft cheeses made from cow’s milk. It actually has a similar lactose content to other semi-soft cheeses such as brie or feta, but is lower in lactose than wetter cheeses like ricotta and cottage cheese.

  • Get our recipe for goats' cheese and red onion bruschetta.

6. MYTH: Cheese on spaghetti bolognese doesn’t count


Grating cheese on your spaghetti bolognese adds extra calories, saturated fat and salt. A generous handful of cheddar could easily weigh 50g, adding 230kcal (more than 10 per cent of your daily requirement). Two level tablespoons of grated cheddar is about 20g.

Avoid using your hands to grab a large sprinkling, as you may add too much. To get that tasty cheese flavour while avoiding excess calories, use a smaller serving of a vintage or mature cheddar.

  • Get our recipe for spaghetti bolognese.

7. MYTH: Grated cheese is better than sliced


It is true that most people use less cheese when they grate it. A pre-cut slice of cheese usually weighs 20–30g and most people use many slices in a sandwich.

But even if you’re grating cheese into sauces, toasties or jacket potatoes, you should still watch your portion size, as it’s easy to have too much.

Once cheese is grated, it’s difficult to equate it to a healthy matchbox-size portion. Weigh it out next time to check how good your guess is. Another common habit is to eat the knob of cheese that’s too small to grate. If this knob weighs 5g and you eat one twice a week, you will consume a whole day’s extra calories each year.

  • Read our 7 times to say no to cheese.

Type of cheese

Total grams of fat per 100g

Saturated fat grams per 100g

High fat (total fat more than 17.5g per 100g)
Mascarpone 44 29
35 23
Cheddar, Red Leicester, Double
Gloucester and other hard cheeses
35 22
Parmesan 30 19
Brie 29 18
Paneer (made from whole milk) 28 18
Soft goat’s cheese
26 18
Edam 26 16
Processed cheese
(e.g. cheese slices, cheese strings)
24 14
23 14
20 14
Mozzarella 20 14

Medium fat (total fat 3.1g-17.5g per 100g)
Half-fat cheddar
16 10
Reduced-fat processed cheese
13 8
8 5
Cottage cheese (plain or with additions
such as pineapple)
4 2

Low fat (total fat 3g or less per 100g)
Reduced-fat cottage cheese (plain) 2 1
Quark 0.2 0.1

What to read next...

Cheese: the good, the bad and the ugly

Read the article

7 cheese facts that will surprise you (2)

7 cheese facts that will surprise you (2024)


What are some interesting facts about cheese? ›

Cheese Facts
  • The most popular cheese recipe in the United States is "macaroni and cheese."
  • There are around 2,000 varieties of cheese. ...
  • Cheese takes up about 1/10 the volume of the milk it was made from.
  • A giant wheel of Cheddar cheese was given to Queen Victoria (1837-1901) for a wedding gift.

What happens if you eat too much cheese in one sitting? ›

"Cheese is a rich source of fat and can trigger heartburn in susceptible individuals," says Sabat. "When consumed in excess, the high-fat content of cheese can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that normally prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Can I eat 100g of cheese every day? ›

So how much cheese is enough? Now that you know what happens when you consume large quantities of this very delicious food, let's tell you how much cheese is enough. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than three portions of cheese per day, which each serving capped at 42 grams of cheese.

What is special about cheese? ›

Research has shown that dairy products like cheese can help keep you from getting cavities in your teeth. Other health benefits of cheese include: Bone and muscle health. The calcium and protein in cheese are great for building strong bones and muscle.

What makes cheese unique? ›

Different types of cultures are used to create different types of cheese. For example, Swiss cheese uses one type of culture, while Brie and Blue use others. After the starter culture, a few other ingredients are added including rennet and, depending on the type of cheese, color -- which is why Cheddar is orange.

How old is the oldest cheese? ›

In 2018, archeologists from Cairo University and the University of Catania reported the discovery of the oldest known cheese from Egypt. Discovered in the Saqqara necropolis, it is around 3200 years old. Earlier, remains identified as cheese were found in the funeral meal in an Egyptian tomb dating around 2900 BC.

Is too much cheese bad for kids? ›

Giving children a lot of cheese may be linked to constipation. A diagnosis of constipation usually means that your child has hard, hard-to-pass stools that can also be painful. Some children will have fewer than three bowel movements a week and others will have small bowel movements frequently throughout the day.

What cheese is lowest in fat? ›

Which Cheeses Are Lowest in Cholesterol and Fat?
  • Cottage cheese: One cup of low-fat (1%) cottage cheese has 9mg of cholesterol and 1.5g of saturated fat.
  • Low-fat mozzarella cheese: A one-ounce serving of the part-skim variety has 18 mg of cholesterol and less than 3 g of saturated fat.
Jun 14, 2023

Is 2 slices of cheese a day bad? ›

If your diet, in general, is very low in saturated fats and sodium, having two to three ounces of cheese a day may be safe,” says Supan. “If you're trying to eat healthy or have any heart concerns, I would try to stick to one ounce of high-quality cheese a day, or maybe even less than that a few times a week.”

Can dogs eat cheese? ›

In most cases, yes, dogs can eat cheese. When given in moderation, it can make a great high reward training treat (particularly when there's lots of distractions). Most dogs adore the taste of it too! It's important to remember that some cheeses have added ingredients, which need to be avoided.

Is cheese good for skin? ›

Selenium contained in cheese has a major effect on the healing of oily hair and hair and skin diseases. When used as a lotion, it accelerates the healing of scars. Niacine repairs the damage on the upper skin layers, ensures a moist skin helping the skin look more moist and less wrinkled.

Is cheese better than milk? ›

Cheese may be better tolerated than milk in some people because it is lower in lactose, a type of sugar that is not easily digested if people lack the enzyme to break it down.

Why cheese is a junk food? ›

Cheese in high in fat, including saturated fat. Some experts, though not all, advise limiting your intake of saturated fat. High in salt. It's also usually loaded with sodium, which can be an issue for people with high blood pressure.

Is cheese its junk food? ›

Cheez-It baked snack crackers have been a hit for over a century. Though they're "made with real cheese," ingredients like food preservative TBHQ, high levels of sodium, and enriched flour make them fairly unhealthy. A 2021 study found that TBHQ can harm the immune system, specifically immune cell proteins.

How did cheese get its name? ›

The word cheese comes from Latin caseus, from which the modern word casein is also derived. The earliest source is from the proto-Indo-European root *kwat-, which means "to ferment, become sour". That gave rise to cīese or cēse (in Old English) and chese (in Middle English).

Who first ate cheese? ›

Historians haven't nailed down an exact date when cheese was invented, but jars from the First Dynasty of Egypt were found to contain cheese dating back to 3000 BCE, and Egyptian tomb murals from 2000 BCE depict cheese manufacturing.

What is an interesting history of cheese? ›

Cheese was also discovered in one of the pharaohs' tombs (2.8 thousand years BC). In the Bible Abram offered sour milk to three angels as early as at the beginning of the Book of Genesis, while in the famous Odyssey Homer describes Ulysses who observes Polyphemus, the Cyclops, who makes goat cheese in his cave.

How old is most cheese? ›

How Different Cheeses Are Aged
  • Mild cheddar: Aged for 2 to 3 months.
  • Sharp cheddar: Aged for 6 to 9 months.
  • Extra sharp cheddar: Aged for 18 months to 2+ years.
  • New York cheddar: Aged anywhere from 6 months to 10 years.
  • Farmhouse cheddar: Aged for 9 months.
Apr 12, 2022

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated:

Views: 5854

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.