Its easy to lump in cheese with cake, bread, and other waistline offenders. Not so fast, though: Although some dairy products might pack on pounds, many cheeses are actually good for you in moderation, as part of a balanced diet. (Read: This isnt permission to eat a wedge of cheese for lunch, with a chaser of cheesecake.) Here are a few tasty morsels of information from nutritionist Karen Ansel, R.D.N., coauthor of Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day; her insights will help you indulge in all the right ways.
1.) Cheese can help you stay slim
Cheese may help you stay slim thanks to a substance called butyrate, found in many cheeses, says Ansel. Gruyère, blue, and Gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar all have high amounts. Research suggests that it may help boost metabolism. These cheeses also encourage the bacteria in our gut to make even more butyrate, so its a double win.
2.) Cheese may help prevent cancer
This news is easy to digest: One study found that the butyrate in cheese can protect against colon cancer by nourishing the cells of your colon, says Ansel, and by reducing that inflammation that can damage the colon over time.
3.) Cheese is whey good for building muscle
Protein-packed cheese is a smart snack for building muscle, Ansel says. Protein is made of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. For the best protein boost, try ricotta cheese, says Ansel. Its one of the single best sources of whey protein, which is especially advantageous for muscle building. And it tastes a lot better than a gritty protein powder.