The keto diet encourages the inclusion of all kinds of delicious fatty foods in place of carbs, such as meats, poultry, eggs, and so much more.

But what about cheese?

There are so many varieties of cheeses, surely they can’t all be keto-friendly…

The short answer is yes, they can be.

But just like anything else, moderation is key!

Another thing to remember is that not all cheeses are created equal. Just one cup of ricotta cheese contains 7g of carbs. But don’t worry, there are plenty of other cheeses that have a much lower carb content, which we’ll take a look at in this article.

We’re also going to review how eating cheese on the keto diet can be beneficial to your health and the best cheeses to eat on your diet!

Don’t Miss out on the Excellent Health Benefits

Not only is cheese delicious, but it’s high in fat and generally low in carbs—making it perfect for a ketogenic diet.

Cheese is also rich in protein, with cheddar containing an average of 7 grams per ounce. It’s also great for hitting your recommended daily allowance of calcium—providing up to 20% of your required intake.

Cheese contains plenty of zinc, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus which, along with calcium, help to maintain the health of your teeth and bones, boost your immune system, and protect your heart.

Cheese is also rich in vitamin B12, a highly complex vitamin that helps to produce DNA, protein, red blood cells, and contributes to stronger mental health. While vitamin B-12 deficiency can have serious side effects, it’s impossible to get too much of it. Eating cheese is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough.

While cheese is high in saturated fat, studies have shown that it doesn’t actually contribute toward cardiovascular disease. In fact, it may even help protect against it. [1]

Studies have shown that by increasing calcium intake through the consumption of cheese, it’s possible to lower your blood pressure and even reverse hypertension.

The fatty acids in cheese provide excellent fuel for keeping your brain healthy. It also contains linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid which research has linked to more efficient fat metabolism as well as cancer prevention.

Much like yogurt, cheese is an effective probiotic and helps keep your gut flora healthy, which is crucial for a robust digestive system.

Are Some Cheeses Better Than Others?

The keto diet aims to achieve ketosis by reducing carb intake, so that’s what we need to focus on when deciding which cheeses to include in our diet. On the whole, cheese is generally low-carb, but some varieties are going to be better than others for when following the keto diet.

As a rule of thumb, hard cheeses like parmesan, aged cheddar, swiss, and gouda are going to have a lower carb count. Hard and aged cheeses also contain less lactose for the body to break down.

Below are the total carbs per ounce:

  • Parmesan: 1.2 g
  • Aged cheddar: 1 g
  • Swiss: 1.5 g
  • Gouda: 0.6 g

If you suffer from a milder form of lactose intolerance, it’s still possible to eat some harder cheeses to gain the health benefits. For this reason, if you’ve temporarily cut out dairy to test your tolerance, you’ll want to start with reintroducing hard cheeses first.

Softer cheeses, like mozzarella, brie, and blue are still fine on keto but require more moderation in the face of lactose intolerance.

Additionally, you should stick to raw and organic dairy products when possible, as processed dairy can contain up to five times as many carbs—obviously not great for keto.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re picking full-fat over either low-fat or fat-free. The other types of fat are less filling and not ideal for weight management, not to mention they also have a higher carb count.

Lactose sensitivity aside, as long as you avoid processed cheeses, you’ve got free reign in terms of cheese choice.

How to Include Cheese in the Keto Diet

You may have realized that the foods we pair with cheese are most often carb-heavy—such as bread, crackers, and the like. Fortunately, there are dozens of delicious and creative low-carb ways we can continue to make sure we’re getting enough of our favorite cheeses.

Firstly, cheese can be a great addition to most salads, with plenty of flavors to choose from to match your dish.

You can grate and sprinkle it over hot dishes to melt, and even create a low-carb keto mac and cheese (without the mac). Cheese sauces are another simple way to add a cheesy flavor to a meal, and cream cheese can be used to create delicious keto desserts like cheesecake.

Summary

In general, cheese is an excellent fit for the keto diet. It’s high in fat, low in carbs (for the most part), and provides numerous health benefits.

The varieties of cheeses available means that there’s a cheese for every palate and purpose. As long as dairy intolerance isn’t an issue, it’s simple to introduce into your diet to start reaping those positive effects.

Additional Reads:

The Complete Guide To Consuming Dairy On Keto

Keto vs. Paleo vs. Whole30: Which Diet Is Best?

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats: Optimize Your Health on a Keto Diet

Top 10 Dairy-Free, Low-Carb Foods on Keto

References:
[1] Thorning TK, Raziani F, Bendsen NT, Astrup A, Tholstrup T, Raben A. Diets with high-fat cheese, high-fat meat, or carbohydrate on cardiovascular risk markers in overweight postmenopausal women: a randomized crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Sep;102(3):573-81. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.109116. Epub 2015 Jul 15.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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