HIGH cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke, and can be caused by eating too much saturated fat.
It’s found in many foods deriving from animals, such as fatty meats, butter and full-fat dairy – including cheese.
However, it can also be present in popular health foods such as coconut oil.
According to Heart UK, consuming too much saturated fat increases levels of “bad” – or LDL – cholesterol in the blood.
They recommend keeping it to a minimum, or replacing it with plant-based “good” fats such as nuts, seeds and avocado.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to give all the foods you enjoy.
Cheese may be a source of saturated fat, but it’s also very nutritious.
Frida Harju, nutritionist at health app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), said: “Cheese contains many nutrients and vitamins that are crucial for overall good health such as calcium – which is vital for bones – zinc, vitamin B12 and Vitamin A.
“It is also a great source of protein – particularly if you’re vegetarian.”
But if you want to keep saturated fat to a minimum, there are particular cheeses that contain less of it than others.
Amar Lodhia, founder of meal delivery service Fit Kitchen (www.fitkitchen.uk.com), said: “Cheddar, parmesan and halloumi contain the highest amounts of saturated fat.
“The lowest are feta and cottage cheese – both are also packed with calcium and vitamin D.”
She explained that if you’re looking for a great cheese-based protein source, try goats cheese, and if it’s a probiotic effect you’re after, give gouda a go.
Fiona Hunter, nutritionist and spokesperson for Healthspan, added: “Marscarpone and cream cheese are high in saturated fat, whereas ricotta and light soft cheese are low.
“In the saturated fat middle-ground, you’ll find stilton, roquefort, edam, brie and camembert.”
But since most cheeses have not insignificant amounts of fat and salt, she recommended consuming it in moderation.
Hunter explained: “A portion is actually about 30g, which is a piece about the size of a small match box. But because it’s so delicious we tend to eat more.”
“Remember, however that you shouldn’t divide foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Just because cheese is high in saturated fat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it occasionally, particularly if the rest of your diet is low in saturated fat.”