If you love cheese, then feta may be on your list of favorites. Its soft texture and salty, tangy taste make it almost irresistible. No wonder it is the most well-known and loved cheese in Greece. It figures prominently in Mediterranean cuisine and is used in almost all types of dishes. One interesting thing about feta cheese is that, although it is originally made in Greece, only cheese made in some areas of the country can be called “feta”. The sheep from which milk for the cheese is derived, are fed the local grass of those areas. This is what gives the cheese its unique flavor. If goat’s milk is used instead of sheep’s milk, the cheese will have a milder and less tangy flavor.
What Nutrients Does Feta Cheese Have?
Feta cheese is packed with nutrients.1 It contains fats, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, vitamin B6, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin, K, iron, magnesium, pantothenic acid, and folate. Its fat and calorie content is much lower than that of cheeses like parmesan and cheddar. And its calcium and vitamin B content is higher than that of cheeses like mozzarella, cottage cheese, goat cheese, and ricotta.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Feta Cheese?
1. It Is Good For Your Bones
Since feta cheese contains calcium, protein, and phosphorus, it supports the health of your bones. Consuming the cheese regularly can help maintain your bone density, preventing osteoporosis. Since sheep’s milk has a higher amount of calcium and phosphorus than cow’s milk, incorporating it into your diet helps you get the recommended daily intake of minerals.
2. It Contains Healthy Fatty Acids
Feta contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which helps decrease the percentage of fats in your body and increases lean body mass. CLA also has an anti-diabetic and an anti-cancer effect on your body. The CLA content of milk generally decreases when it is stored, but the bacteria that is used to make cheese help increase its concentration.2 So, including feta cheese in your diet will provide you with a healthy dose of CLA, which will help you stay lean.
3. It Improves Your Gut Health
Feta contains a strain of bacteria known as Lactobacillus plantarum, which is a good type of bacteria that benefits the health of your gut.3 It fights against disease-causing bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella. It survives in the extreme conditions of your gut and has an anti-inflammatory effect on your body.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Feta Cheese?
1. It Contains Lactose
Since feta is made from milk, it contains a high amount of lactose. It is an unripened cheese so it has a higher amount of lactose than aged cheeses. You should avoid having feta if you are lactose intolerant.
2. It Has A High Sodium Content
When cheese is made, high amounts of salt is added to curd and cheese blocks are stored in brine which has almost 7% salt. If you are following a low-sodium diet, then you should avoid feta cheese.
3. It Is Not Safe For Pregnant Women
Pregnant women should not consume feta cheese, especially if it is unpasteurized. Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk may contain a bacterial strain called Listeria monocytogenes, which are generally found in soil and water. Since feta also contains a lot of moisture, it can contain other forms of bacteria as well.
So, feta cheese has many health benefits and is safe for most people to eat. And it can be used in a variety of dishes ranging from appetizers to desserts. Just make sure to eat it in moderation and not to go overboard with it.
|↑1||Self Nutrition Data. Cheese, feta.|
|↑2||Laskaridis, Kostas, Amalia Serafeimidou, Spiros Zlatanos, Evgenia Gylou, Evdokia Kontorepanidou, and Angelos Sagredos. “Changes in fatty acid profile of feta cheese including conjugated linoleic acid.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 93, no. 9. 2013.|
|↑3||Galanis, Alex, Yiannis Kourkoutas, Chrysoula C. Tassou, and Nikos Chorianopoulos. “Detection and identification of probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum strains by multiplex PCR using RAPD-derived primers.” International journal of molecular sciences 16, no. 10. 2015.|