As a nation, we get more bone-building calcium from cheese than from any other food except milk. But cheese also gives us more (artery-clogging) saturated fat than any other food, even beef or milk. And its a major source of cholesterol and sodium.
A serving of lasagna contains 21 grams of saturated fat (an entire days worth). A plate of cheese nachos has 25 grams. Cheese is everywhere. Its in salads and sandwiches. Its melted on greasy burgers and lean chicken breasts. It coats french fries. Its glopped onto steaming baked potatoes.
According to food labels, a serving of cheese is one ounce. That aint much. One-and-a-half slices of process (American) cheese will do it. So will one slice of Swiss or provolone, a 1 1/4-inch cube of cheddar or most other hard cheeses, or the cheese on a slice of pizza from a large pie.
Parmesan and Romano are just as fatty as other cheeses, but theyre so flavorful that two (grated) tablespoons are all it may take to zip up a bowl of pasta or most any other dish. That means just three grams of fat (two of them saturated).
In 1970 the average American ate a little over 11 pounds of cheese. By 1998 it had jumped to 28 pounds. Thats more than two pounds a month.
If you were trying to damage your heart, you couldnt do much better than to eat a cheeseburger. The fatty ground beef is bad enough without the fat-laden cheese. Add cheese to your McDonalds Quarter Pounder or Burger King Whopper, for example, and youll swallow an extra five grams of saturated fat (a quarter of your daily maximum).
An ounce of mozzarella has less fat (six grams) and saturated fat (four grams) than most other cheeses. But part-skim mozzarella is something of a fraud. It saves you just one gram of total fat (almost all of it saturated) for every ounce you eat.
A four-ounce slice of Pizza Huts Pan Cheese Pizza has 14 grams of fat, six of them saturated. Make it a four-ounce slice of Dominos Hand Tossed Cheese Pizza and youll get about half as much of each. Your best pizza strategy: Ask for your pie with half the usual amount of cheese. And, whatever you do, stay away from cheese-stuffed-crust pizzas and Pizza Huts new The Insider, which has an extra layer of cheese between its two crusts.