Why Cheese Is Good for You

For optimal health, you need protein, carbohydrates, fats, and a full complement of vitamins and minerals. Combined with plenty of water and good exercise, a properly balanced diet goes a long way to ensuring your health. Milk and cheese are excellent sources of complete proteins (proteins that contain all eight of the amino acids humans need), calcium, potassium, and vitamins.

And, though cheese does contain fat, and many people are concerned about limiting their fat intake, cheese contains fatty acids and saturated fats, both of which help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins and regulate all sorts of biological processes. As a nutrient-dense form of milk, cheese is impossible to beat as a ready and easily accessible source of nutrition.

U.S. 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

In 2005, the USDA issued new dietary guidelines for Americans that are intended to inform policymakers, nutrition educators, and health providers, who in turn counsel people on their diets. These guidelines are based on the latest scientific findings as recognized by government agencies, and though they are not without challenges; most of the challenges are focused on how to satisfy the dietary requirements rather than what the dietary requirements are.

Two approaches are taken into consideration, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan, and the USDA Food Guide. And while these two approaches differ in some areas, both recommend 2 to 3 cups of foods from the milk group every day. (One cup of milk is equivalent to 1 cup of yogurt or 1 to 2 ounces of cheese, depending on the cheese.)

Furthermore, studies show that many adults and children do not take in enough calcium, potassium, or vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C, and E. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, it helps blood clot, and it assists in the way your nerves, muscles, and heart function. Potassium is essential to maintaining healthy cells, and, like calcium, it helps your nerves to function well. Vitamin A is important to the health of your skin and other membranes, and without vitamin C, you can develop scurvy and be vulnerable to a host of other diseases. Vitamin E is essential to absorbing other nutrients and maintaining good health.

In 2006, the British Cheese Board released the results of a study in which 200 volunteers ate ¾ of an ounce of cheese one half-hour before bedtime. They were shocked to learn that Brie led to dreams of sunny beaches, Stilton led to dreams of battle, Cheddar led to dreams of celebrities, and after eating Cheshire cheese, people tended not to dream at all.

Because Americans are often deficient in calcium and vitamins, and milk is such a wonderful source of both, the USDA has recommended, among other things, an average per-day increase of 1.6 cups of low-fat milk or its equivalent for women and 1.2 cups of low-fat milk or its equivalent for men, bringing the recommended total cups of milk per day for both men and women to 3 cups.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Nutrient-dense foods is a recent phrase referring to foods high in nutrition and low in calories, and it's been coined as a way of contrasting it with the types of foods so common in the United States today: high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. The USDA is not alone in encouraging Americans to focus on nutrient-dense foods in their diets. The phrase has also become common shorthand among grassroots organizations promoting naturally healthy diets. Cheese is one of the original nutrient-dense foods!

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