Considering fat contains nine calories per gram (whereas carbs and protein boast only four calories per gram), it's not surprising that limiting fat is a common weight-loss strategy.
In fact, most adults consume too much saturated fat, according to the Mayo Clinic, and cheese is the top offender. Due to its high-fat content, cheese is among the first foods dieters eliminate. However, you don't have to break up with this dairy delicacy in order to drop pounds!
Choosing either naturally low-fat or reduced-fat options can help you incorporate cheese into a healthy diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Low-fat cheeses are lower in fat and calories but still provide you with plenty of calcium to help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of bone fracture, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Next time you're in the dairy aisle, consider these low-fat cheeses. But before you dig in, be mindful of the serving size. A standard serving of cheese is about 1.5 ounces or about 42 grams — for visual comparison, that's around 3 tablespoons — the American Heart Association tells us.
Ricotta is a soft cheese that is generally low in fat. Even whole milk ricotta contains only four grams of fat, with 2.7 grams coming from saturated fat, according to the USDA. A serving of ricotta boasts less than 100 calories and provides three grams of muscle-building protein.
This creamy cheese is subtle in flavor and can be mixed with berries and enjoyed as a dessert. Ricotta is also a lower-fat cream cheese alternative — traditional cream cheese has around 14 grams of fat per serving, according to the USDA — and can be easily spread on toast or bagels. If you want to further nix fat, try fat-free ricotta.
Some of the best low-fat cheese varieties come that way naturally. Feta cheese, a Greek crumbly variety, contains about nine grams of fat per serving, with six grams coming from saturated fat, according to the USDA. Feta is high in protein and low in calories, providing about six grams of protein per serving for only 111 calories.
Feta cheese is a tasty addition to salads and homemade pizza. This low-fat cheese option is also a common component of the Mediterranean diet, which is popularly associated with reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and other conditions, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Read more: High-Carb, Low-Protein and Low-Fat Foods
With its light flavor and rich texture, mozzarella makes for a good snacking cheese — and, it's naturally low in fat! Like its Greek cousin, this traditional Italian cheese provides about nine grams of fat per serving with only about 4.5 grams coming from saturated fat, according to the USDA.
And who doesn't love shredded mozzarella? Like feta, mozzarella can be easily sprinkled on a salad or DIY pizza for a major flavor boost.
Considering most low-fat cheeses are pretty light and subtle in flavor, provolone is a more flavorful, sharper option to consider. However, it is a little higher in fat than its competitors. A serving of provolone contains about 12 grams of fat, with 7.5 grams coming from saturated fat, according to the USDA.
As a hard cheese, provolone is often bought in slices, making it a convenient addition to your lunch sandwich. Provolone is one of the more protein-dense, low-fat cheese options with about 11 grams of protein per serving.
Read more: List of Dairy-Free Foods
- Mayo Clinic: "Boiling Down the Dietary Guidelines"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Dairy: Health Food or Health Risk?"
- American Heart Association: "What Is a Serving?"
- USDA: "Cheese, Ricotta, Whole Milk"
- USDA: "Cheese, Cream"
- USDA: "Cheese, Feta"
- USDA: "Mozzarella Cheese"
- USDA: "Provolone Cheese"
- National Cancer Institute: "Top Food Sources of Saturated Fata Among U.S. Population"