Most adults don’t relish the idea of slugging down a glass of milk, and you can only eat so much yogurt before you get bored with it. So how can you keep some healthy dairy in your diet without having to resort to chalky supplements or straying into “forbidden” territory like ice cream?
As it turns out cheese can, and should, stay on the menu. Despite its unwarranted bad reputation, cheese has some surprising health benefits. So go ahead and drop the guilt. Here’s what you could be getting out of this delicious comfort food.
Let’s Talk About Butyrate
Many cheeses contain an amazing substance called butyrate, which is majorly beneficial to your whole system. For starters, some studies show that it can help boost your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and aids the digestive system too.
Another study shows that butyrate can prompt the beneficial bacteria in your system to generate even more butyrate, meaning you get a double dose.
It Can Help You Build Muscle
After a hard workout, your muscles need to rebuild their damaged fibers so they can come back bigger and stronger. In order to do that, your body needs amino acids to help synthesize new protein for muscle repair. Cheese just so happens to be a great source of amino acids and protein. For the highest protein content, go with Parmesan, mozzarella, or Romano cheese.
It’s Loaded With Calcium and Phosphorus
If you’re looking for healthier bones and teeth, include some cheese in your diet. Since cheese is made from milk, its calcium content is very high. One slice of Cheddar cheese has about one-third of your daily recommended calcium intake, and one ounce of most other cheeses comes pretty darn close to that mark too.
Calcium and phosphorus can work together to help combat the lactic acid that naturally builds up in our mouths, causing damage to our tooth enamel. So you can definitely stop feeling guilty about that fresh mozzarella you’ve just added to your salad!
Not All Cheeses Contain Lactose
If lactose does a number on your system, you’re not alone. In some populations, as many as 90 percent of people can’t adequately digest lactose. Lactose intolerance can cause various uncomfortable digestive problems. When we’re born, we are wired to digest milk from our mothers, but as we age, our ability to handle the lactose present in dairy products decreases, making it difficult for some of us to get adequate calcium.
Luckily, the cheese-making process breaks down most of the lactose present in milk. Mozzarella, Gouda, Swiss, Parmesan, Brie and some other cheeses, which are aged have less than one gram of lactose per serving. Compare that to the 12 grams present in milk, and you’ll see why some cheeses are very easy on the stomach.
It Can Help Prevent Mindless Snacking
The reason cheese is so maligned is because of its high fat content, yet dietary fat is an important part of a balanced eating plan. The fat present in a serving of cheese makes it a very satisfying food, meaning you’re less likely to snack after including an appropriate portion in your meal.
As always, moderation is key, but if you’ve completely cut cheese out of your diet due to some bad press, consider this your formal invitation to begin enjoying it again!