Holiday gatherings are filled with fun and food and our holiday table always includes a little cheese. Cheese sliced up with crackers and summer sausage has been a mainstay at our holiday gatherings as far back as I can remember. But while serving up some cheese recently at a wellness fair, I was asked the question…”Should I really be eating cheese? I’ve heard I shouldn’t be.”
Well let me slice off this myth.
Cheese is so nutrient dense, since it takes about 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. It’s a valuable source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc. While we might think cheese is full of salt, it actually only contributes 8% of our sodium intake in a day. Some cheeses are naturally low in sodium, such as Swiss, Monterey Jack and ricotta. And what about the fat in cheese? Cheese fits into the healthiest eating plans, including the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which is a diet to help prevent high blood pressure. It even is encouraged in the Mediterranean diet (one of the healthiest ways to eat!), plant-based diets, vegetarian diets, gluten-free diets and even for those that are on a lactose-free diet.
And one more myth I want to clear up…cheese does not need to be eliminated if you are following a lactose free diet. If you have trouble digesting lactose, you are in luck, because most cheese is very low in lactose! People with lactose intolerance may find natural types of cheese, such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss, to be more agreeable. This is because these types of cheese contain minimal amounts of lactose because of how they are made.
This year, we will be celebrating with this festive Christmas cheese tree. It’s easy to prepare, you just need green and red grapes and your favorite cheeses cut into small cubes. I’ve used three kinds of cheese to give the tree a little color. And you can garnish it with some fresh thyme to give the full tree effect. Cheese and grapes just go so well together!
Let me know how you will be using cheese this holiday season!