Cheese often cops a bit of flak for being an unhealthy food, despite it being loaded in protein. It’s made from dairy, which immediately puts a stop to anyone who can’t eat that, plus it’s pretty high in fat – although high-fat cheese can be good for you. But what else does research say about it?
Recently, renowned dietician Brigitte Zeitlin, investigated a host of common misconceptions about the complete protein and the benefits of a high-protein diet with dairy – namely cheese – playing a central role. A ‘complete protein’ contains all nine amino acids the body needs to build lean muscle and is typically found in animal byproducts. Her research found some interesting things to say the least.
“The naturally occurring sugar found in milk and dairy products is a natural, healthy form of sugar and is accompanied by the amount of protein in the item, which helps to regulate and prevent a spike in blood sugar,” said Brigitte Zeitlin. “You want to avoid all products, dairy products included that have added sugars to them in addition to the naturally occurring ones. Cheese rarely has added sugars. However you do want to stay away from processed cheeses, as they have other unhealthy additives.”
The best thing to do if you want to keep dairy in your diet is stick to the full-fat, regular versions. Blue top milk, unprocessed cheese, that sort of thing. This is because, when companies remove the fat from dairy food and drink, the flavour goes too. To bring some of it back, they inject sugar and sodium into the product.
“Having the proper serving size of the real stuff is always the healthy option than the altered, adapted version.”
Among Zeitlin’s other research findings were:
- Protein is a huge factor in what fills us up and keeps us feeling full at a meal. Having enough protein helps curb overeating and contributes to prolonged satiety throughout the day
- The appropriate serving size of cheese is 1-ounce, consumers should include 1-2 servings of cheese or dairy in their daily diets to get all the great benefits.
- A diet not rich enough in protein could lead to weight gain and lack of satiety, low levels of energy making consumers feel sluggish and fatigued, trouble building and maintaining lean muscle mass, muscle, joint and bone pain, possible mood swings and irritability, poor concentration, a slowed down metabolism, and weakened immune system, among other negative side effects.
- The right amount of protein depends on age, sex, height and physical activity level but if consumers aim to have protein at every meal and snack, they can steer clear of poor side effects.