For thousands of years, cheese has been an essential part of the human diet, helping us to survive and thrive and live in balance with nature.
In more recent times there has sadly been a little confusion about cheese, as we rode through the period where dietary fats were vilified - but Grandma always knew didn’t she?
Read on to learn why, for most of us, cheese is a welcome and delicious part of a balanced diet.
Here are ten reasons to feel good about eating cheese and why it's good for your physical and mental health:
10 reasons why cheese is so good for you
1. Cheese is packed with vitamins and minerals
Cheese is packed with calcium. It’s also super high in Vitamin D, which not only helps us all fight off Coronavirus,
but also helps our bodies to absorb that calcium, along with folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, B2, B12,
and K2. What’s more, when consumed together with calcium, vitamins K2 and D3 are especially good at
protecting your bones, brain and heart. Cheese contains all three, and cheese that's made from the milk of grass-fed animals is proven to have higher levels of vitamin K2.
2. Cheese is a great non-meat source of protein
So much so, that we have even highlighted it on our packs of Fettle:
"I was so used to seeing sweet snacks calling out that they had 20g of protein, that when we were designing the pack for Fettle I knew I had to highlight it!"
100g of Fettle has at least 20g of protein - and let’s face it, most of us are going to use at least that much in our salad or stirred into pasta! I firmly believe that we all need to talk more about how great cheese is as a source of protein and along with all it’s other benefits, it’s great option for those trying to maintain great body composition.
3. The fats in cheese are good for you and help your body absorb all those vitamins and minerals
When you eat that delicious creamy cheese, you’re also consuming conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid and
proven anti-cancer agent and metabolism booster. This fatty acid has all sorts of added health benefits - they
even reckon it could help us lose weight! Hurrah!
Initially, this special episode of the show was going to be about the CLAs in cheese - particularly sheep milk cheese - and how they can help you maintain a healthy weight. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions and time frames, they were unable to film the Professor they had lined up to outline all the real science bits, so they focussed on the fact that soft and creamy cheeses, like our Fettle and actually our blues too, are less calorific than harder cheeses.
In the search for ways to achieve food goals without making drastic dietary changes, Matt Tebbutt is tasked with finding a lower-calorie cheeseboard, and pays us at Shepherd's Purse a visit, to learn about our cheesemaking process for our flagship Feta-style sheep milk cheese, Fettle...Matt was delighted to hear how healthy Fettle really is!
4. Cheese is good for your gut microbiome
And a healthy microbiome is vital for overall health! A study looking into the puzzle as to why French people have relatively low rates of heart disease and obesity - despite eating 20kg of cheese per person per year - found evidence of higher levels of butyrate and propionate in the stools of the participants who ate the full fat cheese.
This is seen as evidence of cheese having a positive impact on the gut microbiome - it was a small study but still, a promising one.
"Feta cheese, or Shepherd's Purse Fettle, is rich in Lactobacillus plantarum bacteria, which produces anti-inflammatory compounds."
5. Cheese is good for your teeth
A study done by dentists showed that eating cheese could lower the risk of having to have fillings. Different
groups were tested, one consuming milk, one consuming sugar free sugar-free yogurt, and one cheese, and the pH balance in various areas of their mouths were tested before and after consumption. A pH level lower than 5.5 can leave your teeth at risk for erosion due to acids created in your mouth. While the groups who drank milk, and ate sugar-free yogurt showed no significant change, the group who ate cheese, chewing on it for 3 mins, experienced an increase in pH levels which is great for your teeth!
"The findings may be the result of increased saliva production, due to chewing, which protects teeth from erosion. Your teeth are made up of the same substances as your bones. Just as cheese is beneficial for your bone health, it can also have positive effects on your dental health."
6. Cheese is proven to be effective in reducing the risk of developing Osteoporosis
Dairy being high in calcium means that it is a great food to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. And dairy, being a natural source of calcium is a better option than calcium supplements which can come with their own risks of heart issues.
High quality randomised clinical trials have all proved dairy to be effective across the age spectrum. And again, the combination of calcium with vitamin D, both of which are high in dairy products are proven to be effective.
Further reading: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-dairy-good-for-your-bones
7. Cheese makes you feel good
Tyrosine is a naturally-occurring amino acid found in cheese, that when consumed by us human beings makes us feel content! When it's metabolised in the body, it helps to produce feel good, mood-boosting chemicals such as dopamine - which controls your brain's reward and pleasure centres, hence making you feel good! And, have you ever been eating a piece of cheese and come across deliciously tasty crunchy bits? Well these crunchy bits are actually 'Tyrosine crystals' and Calcium Lactate! So Tyrosine can create extra deliciousness too!
You can buy Tyrosine as a supplement OR you can enjoy eating the cheese and feel extra good that it contains this essential mood-boosting fatty acid.
8. Cheese can connect us to our environment
Cheese is a natural food coming from the milk of animals which is then guided by skill (after an original accidental discovery, which you can read more about here) into such a huge variety of delicious and supremely nutritious human food.
"Respecting animals and understanding the origin of milk helps us to stay connected to the natural world and the gift it provides us."
In a world moving towards more processed food, it’s worth reflecting on the ancient gift of cheese and the relationship between the land, the animals and humanity that it signifies. Learn where you food is from, it's provenance. In the case of cheese, that will take you straight back to nature that has existed in balance for thousands of years.
9. Even lactose intolerant people can enjoy some cheeses
With lactose intolerance, you can still eat cheese, but choose carefully. Hard, aged cheeses like Swiss, parmesan, and cheddars are lower in lactose. Other low-lactose cheese options include cottage cheese or feta cheese made from goat or sheep's milk. If you suffer from lactose intolerance and want to experiment with some cheeses, it’s recommended that you keep a diary to track what and when so you can notice if the cheese agrees with you or not.
Fettle, our sheep milk based feta style cheese, is great for people who suffer with lactose intolerance. Learn more about the benefits of Fettle and sheep milk cheese here.
10. Cheese is great to share
Finally, last but not least, cheese is delicious and great to connect people. It’s a food that we gather round and connect with; think of those long after dinner conversations around a cheese board, or those afternoons at family gatherings around a crowded table (not during a Pandemic Lockdown of course!) All of this social activity is good for us as human beings. We need connection to each other, and to our land. Cheese, when respected understood and enjoyed, brings us all of this and more.