There are few things that isn’t made tastier with a bit of cheese. Burgers? Yup! A veggie board? Check. Pasta–that goes without question. Although cheese is a good source of protein, some varieties are higher in fat, which makes some low-fat dieters avoid the entire category completely. But cheese can definitely be included in a balanced, low-fat diet says Sara Haas, R.D.
“By balance I mean choosing cheeses with great flavor, so that you’ll need less,” she told USA Today. “Balance also means not over-indulging and learning other ways to use cheese instead of sitting down with a hunk of it.”
As with any food, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. In fact, studies indicate that eating cheese may actually help you lose weight according to researchers from the University College Dublin in Ireland. They found that a higher dairy intake was linked to lower body mass index, less body fat, smaller waist size, and lower blood pressure.
Dieters who don’t want to eliminate cheese may want to choose soft cheeses with strong flavors, according to Haas. This is because soft cheese tends to have less fat than hard cheese. Although she notes there’s no reason to fear fat within the context of an overall healthy diet, here are the five best cheeses that are also low in fat:
Although cottage cheese has recently become trendy, the food has long been a staple for dieters. That’s because one cup contains only 183 calories, five grams of fat, and a whopping 23 grams of protein. If you can’t stand the texture, toss some in a blender before topping with your favorite fruit or veggies. Some companies even sell small curd or whipped varieties for those who dislike the standard lumpy texture.
Nutrition info: 183 calories, 5 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbs
Common in Mediterranean recipes, feta only sets you back six grams of fat per one-ounce serving. That may not seem like a huge amount, but you don’t need much of this salty cheese to satisfy your craving. Feta is lower in protein, so it’s best when added to other dishes that are chock-full of the muscle-building nutrient, like chicken recipes, lentils dishes, tuna salads, and pastas.
Nutrition info: 75 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 1 grams of carbs
Tangy and creamy, a one-ounce serving of goat cheese contains six grams of fat and five grams of protein. It’s a perfect on pizza, toast, salads, or pasta dishes.
Nutrition info: 75 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbs
Typically featured in pasta dishes like lasagna, ricotta is pretty versatile–and low in fat. A half-cup of part-skim milk ricotta contains 171 calories, 14 grams of protein and about 10 grams of fat. Add it to toasted whole wheat bread with a drizzle of honey and fruit for an easy snack, or include it in your bowl of morning oats.
Nutrition info: 171 calories, 10 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs
Need a quick on-the-go snack? Opt for a part-skim mozzarella stick, or string cheese, which only has six grams of fat but seven grams of protein. Part-skim shredded mozzarella is also a great low-fat cheese to include in pasta dishes, warm sandwiches, salads, and yes, pizza.
Nutrition info: 80 calories, 6 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, 1 grams of carbs
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