The Delectable Benefits of Cheese

An Ounce of Prevention

Let’s face it, even if rich, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth cheese offered no other benefits than glorious taste and texture, we’d still crave the stuff. Fortunately, it’s also chock full of vitamins and minerals, such as bone-building vitamin B and calcium, that transform it into a healthy menu option.

Ever since the first trader back in 6,000 BCE added salt to milk that was mistakenly left fermenting too long in the sun, cheese has been a staple of chefs and home cooks alike. A study in medical journal The Lancet even showed that two small servings of dairy per day might reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s another reason to smile. Loaded with calcium, cheese helps bones and pearly whites grow strong.

Cheeses, such as low-fat cottage cheese, contain protein to help hair grow. The vitamin B in cheese also increases cell growth, which keeps skin supple. Cheese lowers blood pressure, and if you choose a low-sodium variety, it is even more heart healthy. Cheese has been touted for reducing the effects of PMS, and the calcium content even helps stimulate labor contractions and increase milk production post pregnancy. Although there are other ways to increase your daily calcium intake—from chia seeds to chickpeas—none taste quite as good on pizza. Those suffering from lactose intolerance might try over-the-counter tablets to help digest dairy’s lactose.

There’s probably nothing more crucial to maintaining one’s health than a good night’s sleep. Tryptophan, a naturally occurring amino acid in cheese and dairy products, helps lower stress and promote sleep. Did you ever notice the calm expression on a breastfeeding infant’s face? Milk and cheese both contain the protein casein, which increases feel-good dopamine, triggering the brain’s opioid receptors. That’s another reason cheese and dairy are so addicting.

Cheese is most beneficial when eaten in small amounts. Whether you’re fond of fondue, adore the sharp taste of cheddar, or crave milder mozzarella, there are plenty of healthy reasons to add a bit of cheese to your diet.