Many varieties of cheese can provide important nutrients or offer various health benefits, including mozzarella, blue cheese, and feta, among others.

Cheese is a dairy product that comes in hundreds of different textures and flavors.

It’s produced by adding acid or bacteria to milk from various farm animals, then aging or processing the solid parts of the milk.

The nutrition and taste of cheese depend on how it is produced and what milk is used.

Some people are concerned that cheese is high in fat, sodium, and calories. However, cheese is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, and several other nutrients.

Eating cheese may even aid weight loss and help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. That said, some cheeses are more nutritious than others.

Here are 9 of the healthiest types of cheese.

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Mozzarella is a soft, white cheese with high moisture content. It originated in Italy and is usually made from Italian buffalo or cow’s milk.

Mozzarella is lower in sodium and calories than most other cheeses. One ounce (oz.), or 28 grams (g) of full-fat mozzarella contains (1):

  • Calories: 85
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Sodium: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Calcium: 11% of the DV

Mozzarella also contains bacteria that act as probiotics, including strains of Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus fermentum (2).

Both animal and human studies show that these probiotics may improve gut health and regularity, promote immunity, and decrease inflammation in your body (3, 4, 5).

One older study in 1,072 older adults found that drinking 7 oz. (200 milliliters) per day of fermented dairy containing Lactobacillus fermentum for 3 monthssignificantly reduced the duration of respiratory infections, compared to not consuming the drink (6).

Therefore, dairy products like mozzarella that contain this probiotic may strengthen your immune system and improve your body’s response against infections. However, more research is needed.

Mozzarella tastes delicious in Caprese salad — made with fresh tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar — and can also be added to many recipes.

summary

Mozzarella is a soft cheese that’s lower in sodium and calories than most other cheeses. It also contains probiotics that may boost your immune system.

Blue cheese is made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk that has been cured with cultures from the mold Penicillium (7).

It is typically white with blue or grey veins and spots. The mold used to create blue cheese gives it a distinctive odor and bold, tangy flavor.

Blue cheese is very nutritious and is a good source of calcium. One oz. (28 g) of blue cheese made with whole milk contains (8):

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Sodium: 14% of the DV
  • Calcium: 12% of the DV

Since blue cheese is high in calcium, a nutrient necessary for optimal bone health, adding it to your diet may help prevent bone-related health issues.

In fact, calcium deficiency may be linked to decreased bone strength and an increased risk of osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle (9).

Blue cheese tastes great on top of burgers, pizzas, and salads made with spinach, nuts, and apples or pears.

summary

Blue cheese has distinctive blue or grey veins and a tangy taste. It’s a good source of calcium, which may promote bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.

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Feta is a soft, salty, white cheese originally from Greece. It’s typically made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. Sheep’s milk gives feta a tangy and sharp taste, while goat’s feta is milder.

Because feta is packaged in brine to preserve freshness, it can be high in sodium. However, it is typically lower in calories than most other cheeses.

One oz. (28 g) of full-fat feta cheese provides (10):

  • Calories: 75
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Sodium: 14% of the DV
  • Calcium: 11% of the DV

Feta, like all full-fat dairy, provides conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is associated with many benefits, including reduced body fat and improved body composition (11).

One study in 54 people with obesity found that taking 3 g of a CLA supplement per day for 3 months decreased body fat mass and body fat percentage, compared to a placebo (12).

Thus, eating CLA-containing foods like feta may help improve body composition.

However, research is limited and has mostly focused on CLA supplements. Therefore, more studies on the effects of foods that contain CLA, such as feta, are needed.

To add feta cheese to your diet, try crumbling it over salads, adding it to eggs, or whipping it into a dip to eat with fresh vegetables.

summary

Feta is a Greek cheese that’s higher in salt but lower in calories than other cheeses. It also contains CLA, a fatty acid linked to improved body composition.

Cottage cheese is a soft, white cheese made from the loose curds of cow’s milk. It’s thought to have originated in the United States.

Cottage cheese is much higher in protein than other cheeses. A 1/2-cup (110-g) serving of low fat cottage cheese provides (13):

  • Calories: 90
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Carbs: 5 g
  • Sodium: 15% of the DV
  • Calcium: 9% of the DV

Since cottage cheese is high in protein but low in calories, it is often recommended for weight loss.

Several studies indicate that eating high protein foods like cottage cheese can increase feelings of fullness and help decrease overall calorie intake, which in turn may lead to weight loss (14).

A study in 30 adults found that cottage cheese was just as filling as an omelet with a similar nutrient composition (15).

Thus, adding cottage cheese to your diet may help you feel fuller after meals and reduce your calorie intake.

It tastes great spread on toast, blended into smoothies, added to scrambled eggs, or used as the base for dips.

summary

Cottage cheese is a fresh, clumpy cheese that’s loaded with protein. Adding cottage cheese to your diet can help keep you full and may support weight management.

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Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from the watery parts of cow, goat, sheep, or Italian water buffalo milk that are left over from making other cheeses. Ricotta has a creamy texture and is often described as a lighter version of cottage cheese.

A 1/2-cup (124-g) serving of whole-milk ricotta contains (16):

  • Calories: 186
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Carbs: 9 g
  • Sodium: 6% of the DV
  • Calcium: 20% of the DV

The protein in ricotta cheese is mostly whey, a milk protein that contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need to obtain from food (17).

Whey is easily absorbed and may promote muscle growth, help lower blood pressure, and reduce high cholesterol levels (18, 19, 20).

One review of 22 studies found that supplementing with whey protein reduced levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control. However, this study focused on whey supplements rather than whey from dairy foods (20).

While ricotta may offer similar benefits, more research on whey from whole foods is needed.

Ricotta cheese tastes delicious in salads, scrambled eggs, pasta, and lasagna. It can also be used as a base for creamy dips or served with fruit for a sweet-and-salty snack.

summary

Ricotta is a creamy, white cheese that’s loaded with protein. The high quality whey found in ricotta may promote muscle growth and help lower blood pressure.

Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese that has a gritty texture and a salty, nutty flavor. It’s made from raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk that’s aged for at least 12 months to kill harmful bacteria and produce a complex flavor (21).

The final product is loaded with nutrients. One oz. (28 g) of Parmesan cheese provides (22):

  • Calories: 111
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Sodium: 15% of the DV
  • Calcium: 26% of the DV

A 1-oz. (28-g) serving also contains 16% of the DV for phosphorus (22).

Since Parmesan is rich in both calcium and phosphorus — nutrients that play a role in bone formation — it may promote bone health (23).

One 2014 study in around 5,000 adults found that higher dietary intakes of calcium and phosphorus were significantly associated with better bone mass in certain parts of the body — including the femur, the longest human bone (24).

Finally, since it is aged for a long time, Parmesan is very low in lactose and can usually be tolerated by most people who have lactose intolerance (25).

Grated Parmesan can be added to pastas and pizzas. You can also sprinkle it on eggs or spread slices on a cheese board with fruit and nuts.

summary

Parmesan is a low lactose cheese that’s high in calcium and phosphorus, which may promote bone health.

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As the name suggests, Swiss cheese originated in Switzerland. This semi-hard cheese is normally made from cow’s milk and features a mild, nutty taste.

Its signature holes are formed by bacteria that release gases during the fermentation process (21).

One oz. (28 g) of Swiss cheese contains (26):

  • Calories: 111
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Carbs: less than 1 g
  • Sodium: 2% of the DV
  • Calcium: 19% of the DV

Since it is lower in sodium than most other cheeses, Swiss cheese is often recommended for anyone who needs to monitor their salt intake, including people with high blood pressure (27).

What’s more, research shows that Swiss cheese hosts various compounds that inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) (28).

ACE narrows blood vessels and raises blood pressure in your body — so compounds that stifle it could theoretically help lower blood pressure (29).

However, studies on the effects of other types of cheese that contain compounds that can inhibit ACE have found no effect on blood pressure (30).

Furthermore, more research is needed, as there are no studies on the effects of Swiss cheese on blood pressure specifically.

To incorporate Swiss cheese into your diet, you can eat it with fruit or add it to sandwiches, egg bakes, burgers, and French onion soup.

summary

Swiss cheese has less sodium than most other cheeses and offers compounds that may help lower blood pressure. However, more research is needed.

Cheddar is a widely popular semi-hard cheese from England.

Made from cow’s milk that has been matured for several months, it can be white, off-white, or yellow. The taste of cheddar depends on the variety, ranging from mild to extra sharp.

One oz. (28 g) of sharp cheddar cheese contains (31):

  • Calories: 115
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Sodium: 8% of the DV
  • Calcium: 15% of the DV

In addition to being rich in protein and calcium, cheddar is a good source of vitamin K — especially vitamin K2 (32).

Vitamin K is important for heart and bone health. It prevents calcium from being deposited in the walls of your arteries and veins (33).

Inadequate vitamin K levels can cause calcium buildup, inhibiting blood flow and leading to an increased risk of blockages and heart disease (34, 35).

To prevent calcium deposits, it’s important to get enough vitamin K from foods. As K2 from animal foods is better absorbed than K1 found in plants, K2 may be especially important for preventing heart disease (32, 33).

Eating cheddar is one way to increase your vitamin K2 intake. You can add it to charcuterie plates, vegetable dishes, burgers, and eggs.

summary

Cheddar is rich in vitamin K2, a nutrient that prevents calcium from building up in your arteries and veins. Getting enough vitamin K2 may decrease your risk of heart disease.

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Goat cheese, also known as chèvre, is a tangy, soft cheese made from goat’s milk.

It’s available in several forms, including spreadable logs, crumbles, and varieties made to resemble Brie.

Goat cheese is highly nutritious, with 1 oz. (28 g) providing (36):

  • Calories: 75
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Carbs: 0 g
  • Sodium: 6% of the DV
  • Calcium: 3% of the DV

In addition, goat’s milk has more medium-chain fatty acids than cow’s milk. These types of fat are rapidly absorbed in your body and less likely to be stored as fat (37, 38).

Furthermore, goat cheese may be easier for some people to digest than cheese made from cow’s milk. This may be because goat’s milk is lower in lactose and contains different proteins.

In particular, goat cheese contains A2 casein, which may be less inflammatory and less likely to cause digestive discomfort than the A1 casein found in cow’s milk (39, 40).

Crumbled goat cheese can be added to salads, pizzas, and eggs. What’s more, whipped goat cheese makes a delicious dip for fruit or vegetables.

summary

Goat cheese is lower in lactose and contains proteins that may be more easily digested than those in cheeses from cow’s milk.

Cheese is a widely consumed dairy product.

Most cheeses are a good source of protein and calcium, and some offer additional health benefits. In particular, certain cheeses may provide nutrients that promote gut health, aid weight loss, improve bone health, and decrease your risk of heart disease.

However, as some cheese can be high in sodium or fat, it’s still worth keeping an eye on your intake.

Overall, cheese can be a nutritious addition to a healthy, balanced diet.