QUESTION: I love cheese, but it contains fat. Shouldn’t I avoid it?

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No! Yes, cheese does contain fat, and many people are concerned about limiting their fat consumption, especially Americans. Other countries have higher cheese consumption, yet lower occurrence of hypertension and obesity. Cheese has fatty acids and saturated fats, both of which assist our bodies to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and regulate all sorts of biological processes.

Cheese is a high-quality food that is rich in nutrients. It has and should be a part of any healthy eating plan. Your body needs protein, carbohydrates, fats, and a full accompaniment of vitamins and minerals. Cheeses are excellent sources of complete proteins; those proteins that contain all eight of the amino acids humans need, as well as calcium, potassium, and vitamins. Recent studies show that both adults and children are deficient in calcium, potassium, or vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C, and E. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, assists blood to clot and in the way your nerves, muscles, and heart function. Potassium is essential to maintaining healthy cells and it helps nerves to function well. Vitamin A is vital to the health of your skin and other membranes. Vitamin C makes you less vulnerable to a multitude of diseases. Vitamin E is crucial to absorbing other nutrients and maintaining good health.

For those who are lactose intolerant, natural cheeses such as Farmhouse Cheddar, Aged Gouda, Gruyere, Parmigiana Reggiano contain minimal amounts of lactose, because most of the lactose is removed when the curds are separated from the whey in the cheese making process. Most dairy foods are gluten-free, especially natural cheeses.

To learn more about the common myths and misperception of cheese, speak to Stephen Catania at The Cheese Cave at 14 Monmouth Street in Red Bank or call 732-842-0796.