Yesterday I blogged about peanut butter and why it's great for snacking, weight management and a host of other health benefits. Cheese falls into the same smart-snacking category when eaten in moderation. Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. Remember, protein is a key macronutrient that will help keep you full longer.
Many people shy away from cheese because it is also a source of saturated fat. Saturated fat in the diet can be evil villain that raises blood cholesterol levels; however, this is if you eat 2 slices of cheese in an omelet for breakfast, get some pizza for lunch, and finish your day with a fat-dripping burger and fries. Saturated fat (sat fat for short) is found in whole milk, butter, fatty meats, fried foods and both full- and reduced-fat cheeses. News flash: You don't need to avoid sat fat completely. A typical 2,000 calorie/day diet will allow for approximately seven percent of calories from sat fat, or roughly 16g of sat fat consumed per day. That's not a lot, but it's not zero grams either!
Like most people, I love cheese. For years mozzarella cheese "strings" dominated the cheese stick market, having a mild taste. I'm more of a "kick it up a notch" girl when it comes to zesty flavors and spices. If you're feelin' my vibe, you have to try the Sargento Reduced-Fat Colby-Jack Sticks (click on title to visit Sargento's web site). They have a slightly sharp bite. One stick provides:
- 60 calories, 4.5g total fat (2.5g of this are sat fat), 10mg cholesterol, 135mg sodium, and 5g protein (good!).
Where would this fit into your day? A cheese stick is a great mid-morning snack. Pair with a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack or add as a side to a salad or sandwich at lunch. You could even cut one up and add it into your salad. The sticks are easily transportable in your bag or brief case. I wouldn't leave one in a warm bag for too many hours or it may start to melt or spoil.
There are fat-free cheeses out there, but let's remember one important thing. Eating healthy means to not torture yourself and sacrifice taste. I don't know about you, but fat-free cheeses aren't always the most exciting thing out there. You can fit a little fat, sat fat and cholesterol in your diet. Just be wise as to how this cheese stick fits in with everything else you eat in a day.
Live and Learn: Cholesterol. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from American Heart Association Web site: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4488
Nelson, J, Zeratsky, K, (2009, June 9). Pass the Salt Please. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from Mayoclinic.com Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/salt/MY00732