Thursday, July 9, 2009

Snack Attack: Sargento Reduced-Fat Colby-Jack Cheese Sticks



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!).
The amount of saturated fat still allows room more in your day if needed (it's certainly not necessary to eat the daily allotment of saturated fat). On average, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends most people keep their dietary cholesterol below 300mg/day. As for the sodium (salt), aim for less than 2,300mg/day. This is a tough one since most Americans are consuming more than twice this recommended amount, or roughly 4,600mg/day.

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.

Happy Snacking!

References:
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

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