The origin of cheesecake is uncertain, but it is believed that it was served to the athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 BC. A recipe for cheesecake was found in a Roman treatise around 200 BC. Centuries later, cheesecake is still a favorite dessert, but you have to watch the serving size because full-fat cheesecake is a high-calorie dessert.
You will find as many different recipes for cheesecake as there are flavor options, but they all begin with just a few essential ingredients. The classic cheesecake crust is made from crushed graham crackers and butter. The basic filling consists of sugar, eggs, vanilla and some type of cheese. According to the What's Cooking America website, the most commonly used cheeses are cream cheese, Neufchatel, cottage cheese and ricotta.
Commercially Prepared Cheesecake
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, or NLEA, determines standard serving sizes based on the amount usually consumed in a single serving. One NLEA serving of a plain, commercially prepared cheesecake weighs 125 grams and has 401 calories. However, this may be a larger portion than you typically eat, especially for such a rich dessert. The USDA reports the calories for one serving that only weighs 80 grams and equals 1/6 of a whole cheesecake. This serving size has 257 calories, 4 grams of protein and 20 grams of total carbohydrates.
The USDA Nutrient Database distinguishes between commercially prepared cheesecake and a no-bake cheesecake made from a mix. A slice of no-bake cheesecake that is the same weight as the small portion of prepared cheesecake -- 80 grams -- has 219 calories. It has the same amount of protein as the prepared cheesecake and 28 grams of total carbohydrates.
Calories From Fat
Cheesecake gets a good percentage of its calories from fat. One 80-gram slice of commercially prepared cheesecake has 18 grams of total fat. This means you'll get 162 calories from fat, which is 63 percent of the total calories. The no-bake version only has 10 grams of total fat. In this cheesecake, you only get 90 calories from fats, which is not quite half the total calories. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily fat to 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories.
Keep the Lid on Calories
When you make cheesecake at home, you can control some of the high calorie ingredients. If you stick with cream cheese, you'll get about two-thirds fewer calories by using low-fat cream cheese. Ricotta cheese has half the calories as cream cheese and cottage cheese has significantly less, but using either of these alone doesn't produce quite the same result. Try replacing half of the cream cheese with a lower-calorie cheese option. Some recipes call for sour cream and heavy cream but they add a lot of calories and fat, so choose fat-free brands. When you add fruits, stick with whole fruits and limit the amount of added sugar.
- Whats Cooking America: History of Cheesecake
- Food and Drug Administration: Nutrition Labeling
- USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Cheesecake Commercially Prepared
- USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Cheesecake, Prepared From Mix, No-Bake Type
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats