14 Healthiest Cheese Varieties to Eat

A sampling of cheeses that are not only delicious, but also loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals.

March 10, 2011
assorted cheeses
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Cheese's Healthy Benefits

"Cheese is one of the best foods you can eat for your teeth," says Matthew Messina, DDS, an American Dental Association spokesman. "It's a good source of calcium, to keep your teeth strong. Plus, eating cheese can lower the levels of bacteria in your mouth and keep your teeth clean and cavity-free," he says. Cheese is also packed with protein and fat, which keep you full. And it's versatile and convenient--making it a great snack.

Swiss cheese
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Not only do you get calcium and protein, you also get a big dose of B12 with your slice. And is there any better taste in the world than a fresh slice of Swiss cheese? Have one melted over an open-faced tuna and tomato sandwich.

Serving size: 1 slice (28 g), 106 calories, 8 g protein, 8 g fat, 2 g carbs, 22% calcium, 16% vitamin B12, 16% phosphorus

cheddar cheese
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The classic cheese is a little higher in calories than the average cheese, but you lose none of the calcium and protein -- and its versatility makes it a popular and tasty addition to dozens of meals.

Serving size: 1 slice (28 g), 113 calories, 7 g protein, 9 g fat, 20% calcium, 14% phosphorus

Fresh mozzarella
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Mozzarella (Part Skim)

Mozzarella is lower in calories than most common cheeses, which makes it the perfect app or snack. Try fresh mozzarella sliced with tomato and fresh basil with balsamic vinaigrette. Or eat as string cheese between meals at work.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 71 calories, 7 g protein, 4 g fat, 1 g carbs, 22% calcium, 13% phosphorus

Colby cheese
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Named after the town in Wisconsin where it was created, Colby is milder than cheddar and a great table cheese. It also goes well grated with salads.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 110 calories, 7 g protein, 9 g fat, 1 g carbs, 19% calcium, 13% phosphorus

block of Monterey Jack cheese
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Monterey Jack

Jack is a soft, milder cheese that melts well and is nice on sandwiches. It's probably best known in pepperjack form (hot pepper flakes inside the cheese), which has made it ubiquitous at tailgates and sporting-event parties, which means you probably eat a lot more of it than you should. Take small pieces and savor slowly--you'll enjoy more and eat less.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 104 calories, 7 g protein, 8 g fat, 20% calcium

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Ricotta (Part Skim)

Made from whey, this lower-calorie cheese is rich in amino acids, which speed muscle recovery after a workout. Put half a cup in a blender with skim milk and fruit for a postworkout cheesecake-flavored smoothie.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 39 calories, 3 g protein, 2 g fat, 1 g carbs, 8% calcium

manchego cheese
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Manchego is a meticulously crafted Spanish cheese from sheep's milk that can only be produced in designated parts of the country on registered farms -- though you can find it in most upscale grocery stores.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 120 calories, 7 g protein, 10 g fat, 30% calcium

blue cheese
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One tasty cheese, but blue has more sodium than most cheese. It's best used paired with fruits such as figs, with nuts, or as crumbles over salad. Blue cheese dressing, however, contains more unhealthy fats than the cheese itself.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 99 calories, 6 g protein, 8 g fat, 1 g carbs, 15% calcium, 16% sodium

Comte cheese
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Comte (Gruyere)

The classic French cheese. A little-known health fact: Gruyere is low in sodium compared with other cheeses (1 ounce has 94 milligrams salt, 4 percent of your recommended daily intake) because strict production regulations say that salt can only be added to the surface of the cheese.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 116 calories, 8 g protein, 9 g fat, 28% calcium, 17% phosphorus

Parmesan cheese
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"It's the MSG of Italian cooking," says Marco Canora, chef at Hearth and Insieme in New York City. "It makes everything from roasted asparagus and scrambled eggs to pasta and soup taste better." Look for Parmesan that has been aged at least 16 months, and be leery of cheese that is too pale.

Serving size: 1 oz, hard (28 g), 110 calories, 10 g protein, 7 g fat, 1 g carbs, 33% calcium, 19% phosphorus, 19% sodium

wedge of Brie cheese
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Brie is delicious, but doesn't bring the nutrition to the table like other cheeses, with significantly less calcium.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 94 calories, 6 g protein, 8 g fat, 9% riboflavin, 8% vitamin B12, 5% calcium

cottage cheese
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A half-cup of cottage cheese is a good low-calorie, high-protein snack, but a regular version would also pack about 20 percent of your day's salt. Stick with low-sodium versions.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 20 calories, 3 g protein, <0 g fat, 1 g carbs, 5% sodium, 4% selenium, 4% phosphorus

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Step away from the Cheez Whiz: Robiola is a much healthier way to top a Triscuit. This Italian cheese is soft, like Brie, and it tastes as rich as butter. Spread it on a whole-grain cracker or baguette slice, and round out the snack with grapes or cantaloupe.

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g), 90 calories, 4.5 g protein, 8 g fat

Goat cheese
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Goat (Chevre)

Looking for something low in saturated fat? Skip Cheddar and Brie and try 2 ounces of soft cheese, such as fresh goat cheese or feta, in a salad of romaine and sliced pears tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Serving size: 1 oz, semisoft (28 g), 102 calories, 6 g protein, 8 g fat, 1 g carbs, 11% riboflavin, 10% phosphorus, 8% calcium

Adapted from the Men's Health Big Book of Food & Nutrition

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