All of us love the creamy and nutty taste of cheese nowadays. Be it eaten by its lonesome as a snack or appetizer or an accompaniment to foods such as burgers, pastries or salads, this fermented, milk-based dairy product delights people of all ages.
The question is, is cheese healthy and should consumption of it be limited if not totally avoided especially out of health considerations? This list of health benefits and possible side effects should serve to give you the answers:
- Cheese is rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamins and protein, all of which promote strong bones while keeping osteoporosis and other bone health issues at bay. Protein, in particular, helps strengthen your muscles, while magnesium aids in immune system function, maintaining muscle and nerve function and maintaining normal heart rhythm.
- The calcium present in cheese helps protect your teeth from decay by increasing the levels of phosphate in the mouth. Phosphate itself also aids in strengthening your bones.
- Cheese has conjugated linoleic acid that can not only protect you from cancer, but also boost your immune system while improving lean body mass.
- For lactating mothers, cheese can make up for calcium deficiency during lactation.
- Cheddar cheese and other types of cheese are rich in selenium, which can help prevent viruses from developing and alleviate the risk of thyroid cancer. Plus, this important trace mineral is an important antioxidant, protecting the cells from the skin- and immunity-damaging effects of free radicals.
- One type of cheese, Camembert cheese, may help alleviate levels of inflammatory cytokines, potentially improving brain health in turn. This French cow’s milk-based cheese is moist, soft and creamy, similar to Brie cheese.
- Low-sodium cheese variants can keep your blood pressure levels in check, making them ideal if you are suffering from hypertension.
Potential Side Effects
Cheese may be healthy and tasty, but it is not without its potential side effects:
- Cheese is not good for lactose-intolerant people. Those sensitive to lactose lack the enzyme that breaks down sugar in the body, causing constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea — all gastrointestinal problems.
- Eating too much cheese can cause headaches and even migraine because of the presence of tyramine.
- The high amounts of sodium, calcium and saturated fatty acids found in cheese can contribute to heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Cheese is high in natural fats, but eating those fats in excess can promote weight gain.
- Cheese is basically kryptonite for those who are allergic to milk proteins. It can cause an inflammatory reaction throughout the body and lead to rashes, sinus congestion and acne.