Italian ricotta cheesecake is a decadent dessert that derives its rich flavor from the high-fat cheese it contains. This type of cake isn't ideal for dieting, as the high fat content brings with it a high calorie count. While ricotta cheese provides some nutritional benefits, the other ingredients, including sugar, combine to make this a relatively unhealthy dish.
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Italian ricotta cheesecake, as with most desserts, is calorie dense, meaning even small servings have a lot of calories. An 85 g slice of the cake contains 200 calories, which composes 10 percent of the total daily suggested intake of 2,000. This makes Italian ricotta cheesecake more calorie dense than many other foods; an 85 g serving of yogurt contains just 48 calories, for example.
The reason Italian ricotta cheesecake is calorie dense is its high fat content. Each 85 g slice contains 8 g fat. Of that fat, 4 g comes from saturated fat, a type of fat that may increase your risk of heart disease if you consume it in excess. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 16 g saturated fat each day.
Italian ricotta cheesecake is also rich in carbohydrates. An 85 g serving contains 23 g carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy, but some research suggests high-carbohydrate diets may not be optimal for body composition. A study published in the March 2011 issue of "Nutrition & Metabolism" indicates that diets with a high ratio of carbohydrates to protein encourage increased cellular signaling for fat storage and decreased signaling for muscle gain.
Most of the carbohydrates in Italian ricotta cheesecake come from sugar. Each 85 g slice contains 17 g sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is absorbed rapidly by your body, so it causes a sudden swing in your blood sugar levels. This can lead to what is known as a "sugar crash," or feelings of fatigue after an initial increase in energy. Sugar can also promote tooth decay, and research from the April 2010 issue of "The Journal of the American Medical Association" suggests high-sugar diets can encourage high levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol and low levels of HDL, or good, cholesterol.
Because Italian ricotta cheesecake contains dairy, it does provide more protein than other desserts. An 85 g slice contains 7 g of protein, which is 1 g more than an egg provides. Eggs contain 130 fewer calories, though, so they are the preferable protein source.