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Cheese is generally a high-fat food, depending on the type you’re eating. Because cheese is high in saturated fat – which increases your risk for heart disease when consumed in excess -- eat cheese in moderation or replace it with other protein-rich foods containing heart-healthy fats.
Fat in Cheese
Regular cheese is a high-fat choice. For example, one slice of cheddar cheese contains 9 grams of fat and one slice of provolone cheese provides 7 grams of dietary fat. Choosing part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella cheese means you’re getting about 6 grams of total fat per slice, the USDA notes.The majority of fat grams in each of these types of cheese is saturated fat, which increases your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease when consumed in excess.
Choosing reduced-fat cheese instead of regular cheese is an excellent way to reduce the fat – and calorie – content of your diet. The USDA reports that one slice of reduced-fat cheddar cheese contains about 4 grams of fat, and one slice of reduced-fat provolone cheese provides just under 5 grams of dietary fat. Although the total fat content of reduced-fat cheese is lower than regular cheese, the majority of fat in reduced-fat cheese is still saturated fat.
Daily Fat Requirements
The percentage of calories in your diet that should be from fat is 20 to 35 percent, according to the Institute of Medicine. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 400 to 700 of those calories should be from fat, which equals 44 to 78 grams of fat daily. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest obtaining less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat.
Choosing dietary fat from plant-based foods instead of from animal sources such as cheese helps reduce your saturated fat and dietary cholesterol intake. Examples of heart-healthy fats include olive, canola, soybean, flaxseed and walnut oils, olives and avocados. Foods that are rich in both heart-healthy fats and dietary protein include unsalted nuts and seeds and nut butters – therefore, these foods are heart-healthy alternatives to cheese.
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- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01009, Cheese, Cheddar
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01035, Cheese, Provolone
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01029, Cheese, Mozzarella, Part Skim Milk, Low Moisture
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01260, Cheese, Cheddar, Reduced Fat
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01208, Cheese, Provolone, Reduced Fat
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.
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