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Most cultures around the world have their own cheeses, for which they may be famous throughout other countries. The French have brie, bleu, and Camembert; the Swiss have Swiss; Italians are known for mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta; Greeks for feta; and the Americans for cheddars, jacks, and colbys. On the negative side, the classic “American” sliced cheese is really a “junk” food and not part of the real cheese culture. It is often high in sodium and unnecessary additives. Cheeses are used in a great variety of food dishes, such as sauces, quiche, and omelettes.

Processed Cheeses. Processed cheeses and cheese spreads are often higher than natural cheeses in fat and sodium, neither of which is needed by most people. They are often fortified with vitamin A, but most of the B vitamins and minerals other than calcium and phosphorus are fairly low. Sodium levels are about 400–500 mg. per ounce. It is really a good idea to avoid these cheeses.

Cream Cheese. This mildly processed cheese is higher in fat and lower in protein and calcium than other cheeses. Other than vitamin A, its nutrient content is fairly scarce. However, children do like it, it is better than other cheese spreads, and many people feel they can’t live without their SunDay cream cheese and bagels. But, overall, cream cheese should be used sparingly, if at all.

Cottage Cheese. Made from soured milk, cottage cheese is mainly the curd extracted from the whey. This curd is high in protein, and cottage cheese is somewhat lower in calories and fats than other cheeses. The low-fat cottage cheese is even better. Though the sodium content of most cottage cheeses is pretty high and the calcium content low, overall, cottage cheese is fairly good to use as the main part of an occasional meal.

Ice Cream. Ice cream is both the greatest joy and the greatest tragedy of our food culture, probably the biggest treat and the biggest threat to health of any food. The high-fat congesting nature of ice cream, along with the usual high-sugar content, makes it a food that should be eaten only infrequently and sparingly, if at all. Frozen yogurt and, more recently, Tofutti and Ice Bean made from soybeans or Rice Dream made from rice are tasty and lower in fat, and better nutritional treats than ice cream.

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About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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