Nutrients, Benefits, Downsides, and More

Cheese is a big part of many people’s diets around the world.

Numerous varieties of cheese that have originated in Switzerland may be identified as Swiss cheese.

However, in the United States, Swiss cheese is a pale yellow, slightly firm cheese made from cow’s milk. It is inspired by Emmental cheese from Switzerland.

This cheese is known for its distinctive holes, which are formed by bacteria, and sharp flavor. It offers numerous nutrients, though you may still wonder whether it’s healthy (one, 2nd, 3).

This article explores the health benefits and potential downsides of Swiss cheese.

Swiss cheese — the American kind — is inspired by Switzerland’s pale yellow cheese called Emmental, which has noticable holes that are also called “eyes.”

It differs from traditional Emmental in that it’s made without the rind and is milder in flavor (4).

It’s made by fermenting cow’s milk with a type of bacterium to produce cheese curds. The curds are separated from water, pressed together, and supplemented with salt and another bacterial strain. This mixture is then left to ripen until it’s ready to eat (5).

The bacteria break down lactose, or milk protein, into lactic acid. This process contributes to the cheese’s composition and flavor profile (6, 7).

Swiss cheese is considered a slightly hard cheese that holds its shape relatively well at high temperatures (8).

You can add it to sandwiches, burgers, pastries, omelets, pasta, and fondue.

Summary

Swiss cheese is an American cheese made to resemble Emmental cheese from Switzerland. It has a sharp flavor — though milder than Emmental — pale yellow color, and distinctive holes. It’s great on sandwiches, croissants, and several other dishes.

Swiss cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. Although it’s high in saturated fat, it’s lower in sodium than many other popular cheeses.

Just 1 slice — or about 1 ounce (28 grams) — of Swiss cheese provides (9):

  • Calories: 110
  • Protein: 7.5 grams
  • Carbs: 0.5 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Saturated fat: 5 grams
  • Calcium: 25% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 2.5% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 16% of the DV
  • Sodium: 2% of the DV
  • Chain: 8% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 10% of the DV
  • Vitamin B12: 16% of the DV

As you can see, Swiss cheese is also a good source of phosphorus and vitamins A and B12.

Summary

Swiss cheese offers minerals like zinc and phosphorus, as well as vitamins A and B12. It’s particularly high in protein and calcium.

Swiss cheese contains a variety of nutrients that are important for a healthy diet.

A great source of protein

Protein is the building blocks for your muscles, tissues, skin, and hair. You need it for the growth, repair, and proper functioning of your cells (10).

Proteins from animal sources, such as Swiss cheese, are higher quality than plant protein because they’re nutritionally complete, meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids. Your body can’t make these on its own, so you need to get them through food (11th).

Eating enough protein may aid weight management by keeping you feeling full for long periods (12).

A 3-month study in 118 adults with overweight compared the effects of a high protein diet — 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.34 grams per kg) per day — with a standard protein diet of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kg) daily (13).

Those in the high protein group saw a 7% decrease in body weight — compared with 5% in the standard protein group — and a significant drop in blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (13).

Additionally, some studies show that eating high protein, dairy-based snacks leads to better appetite control and a subsequent decrease in food, compared with high fat or high carb snacks (10, 14).

Though specific recommendations depend on your health, age, and activity levels, adults are generally encouraged to get at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.36 grams per kg) per day (12, 15).

This is about 55 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg).

Eating a slice or two of Swiss cheese can be a great way to up your protein intake and keep you feeling satisfied between meals.

Just one slice of Swiss cheese packs a quarter of your daily calcium intake (9).

Your body absorbs calcium from dairy much more readily than calcium from most plant foods, such as broccoli or spinach (16).

A review of 59 studies showed that calcium intake in excess of 800 mg per day contributed to a slight increase in bone mineral density (17).

Low bone mineral density may raise your risk of fractures. While significant calcium alone may not lead to improvements in bone mineral density, eating calcium-rich foods can protect bone health no matter your age (18).

Additionally, calcium intake in excess of 1,000 mg per day has been linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure (19).

low in lactose

Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. In your body, an enzyme called lactase breaks it down into smaller sugar molecules (20).

People with lactose intolerance don’t produce enough of this enzyme. If you have this condition and eat too much lactose, you can experience symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal pain (21).

However, most people with this condition don’t have to avoid dairy completely. In fact, they can often tolerate about 12–15 grams of lactose per day (22).

Swiss cheese is low in lactose, containing 0.4 grams per slice. This makes it a great cheese option for people with lactose intolerance, though you should keep in mind the total amount you eat.

Summary

Swiss cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, which may promote feelings of fullness and support bone health, respectively. In moderation, it’s also a good choice for people with lactose intolerance.

Like many foods, Swiss cheese may also have some downsides if eaten in excess.

High saturated fat content

Swiss cheese contains approximately 23% of the DV for saturated fat.

Some research suggests that a diet high in saturated fats may lead to an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol, which raises the risk of plaque buildup in your arteries. In turn, this may contribute to blood clots and high blood pressure (23).

In a 6-day study, people with overweight or obesity replaced a standard Western diet high in saturated fat with a diet that swapped sources of saturated fat with walnuts. The walnut diet was lower in saturated fats and higher in mono- and polyunsaturated fats (24).

The walnut diet contributed to a significant decrease in blood pressure and a slight decrease in total cholesterol compared with the Western diet (24)

Despite potential health risks involving saturated fat, a growing body of research indicates that there may be no major link between saturated fat and heart disease (25, 26, 27, 28, 29).

Nevertheless, current dietary guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) advise limiting your saturated fat intake by choosing low fat dairy and lean proteins while reducing your intake of cakes, biscuits, pastries, and ice cream (27, 30).

You should feel free to consult a doctor or dietitian on what’s the best diet for you.

May increase your sodium intake

A high sodium diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease (31).

At just 2% of the DV of sodium per slice (28 ounces), Swiss cheese is lower in sodium than several other cheeses, such as cheddar (8% of the DV) and feta (14% of the DV), though total amounts vary from brand to brand (9, 32, 33).

All the same, eating too much Swiss cheese may result in high sodium intake.

In a 5-year study examining a diet using salt versus a diet using a salt substitute, participants aged 60 and older with high blood pressure showed a decrease in blood pressure, as well as stroke and heart disease risk, when following the salt substitute diet (34).

People who need to monitor sodium intake may need to be conscious of serving sizes. Aim for no more than 1–2 slices (28–56 grams) of Swiss cheese per sitting to keep you sodium intake in check.

Summary

Though Swiss cheese is perfectly healthy in moderation, some people may need to keep an eye on its saturated fat and sodium contents. Limiting your intake to 1–2 slices (28–56 grams) per sitting may help manage portion sizes.

Swiss cheese is a slightly firm, pale yellow cheese similar to Emmental.

It’s particularly rich in protein and calcium while being low in lactose. It also contains other nutrients like zinc, phosphorus, and vitamins A and B12.

Yet, its saturated fat and sodium may lead to negative health outcomes if you eat too much.

Whether you choose to add it to a sandwich or an omelet, Swiss cheese makes a great component of a healthy diet if you eat it in moderation.

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