Is feta cheese good or bad for you?
Feta is a cheese that is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk (or a combination of the two) and is perhaps best well known for being an ingredient that is used to prepare Greek salad.
It is made in a similar way to other types of cheese, by allowing milk to curdle.
Feta is super delicious and can either be eaten on its own or used in various recipes, including omelettes, pastas & burgers. You may be wondering if feta cheese is healthy and how often you should be eating it. Lets find out.
1 wedge (38 g) of feta cheese has:
|Fat||8 g (6 g saturated)|
|Vitamin B12||0.6 mcg|
As you can see from the table above, feta cheese is a source of some vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients:
Calcium – milk based products such as yogurt and cheeses tend to be high in calcium, and feta is no different. A 38 g serving provides you with a fifth of your daily requirement. Calcium is required by the body for bone growth, cancer prevention and heart health.
Protein – many parts of your body, including your muscles, hair, nails and skin require protein in order to remain healthy. It is also needed in the production of enzymes and hormones. Cheeses such as feta are a good source of protein, especially for vegetarians.
Vitamin B12 – not many foods contain vitamin B12, as you will see if you use our healthy food finder tool. B12 is mainly obtained from animal based food products and feta is one of them. Deficiency symptoms of vitamin B12 include chronic fatigue, muscle aches and feeling dizzy, which is why it is important to get enough of this vitamin from a variety of different foods.
Phosphorus – if you eat well, you usually wouldn’t have to worry about suffering from phosphorus deficiency because lots of foods have it. Nonetheless, feta cheese is an excellent source, providing you with 13% of your daily requirement per 38 g serving. Phosphorus has many health benefits; it helps you to maintain strong bones, detoxes your body and improves digestion.
Riboflavin – also known as vitamin B2, it is required by the body in small amounts. It maintains healthy blood cells, boosts energy levels, supports eye health and defends against cancer. A 38 g serving of feta will provide you with 19% of your daily requirement.
At the same time however, feta cheese is high in sodium and saturated fat, both of which should be consumed in moderation.
The over-consumption of sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease over time. Saturated fat on the other hand is a controversial topic, however it is generally advised that its intake should be controlled.
So the point is, yes, feta cheese can be good for you so long as you don’t eat too much. This is usually the case with a lot of foods – moderation is key.
Is feta cheese fattening?
The consumption of excess calories over time is what leads to weight gain.
This is because calories that are not used by your body as a source of energy are stored as fat.
The more excess calories you eat, the more weight you gain, and these calories can come from any type of food.
The number of calories found in different foods varies largely.
Those that are mainly made up of water (which has 0 calories), like fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories.
Conversely, foods that are high in fat, such as nuts, seeds and cheese tend to be high in calories.
Indeed, feta cheese is a high calorie food. For example, a one cup serving has almost 400 calories. As a comparison, one cup of spinach has only 7 calories! It is therefore much easier to gain weight by eating feta cheese than it is spinach.
The number of calories that a person needs to consume in order to gain weight depends on their age, gender, weight, height and how active they are.
You can use the calculator below to get a rough estimation of how many calories you should be consuming.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 35 year old lady who weighs 65 kg, is 170 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week will need to consume upwards of 2200 calories in order to start gaining weight.
Provided that feta cheese is eaten in small amounts, it will not result in weight gain. Eating one or two wedges a day is perfectly fine. However eating two cups daily, on top of your other meals will most likely lead to weight gain.
Is feta cheese lactose & gluten free?
Lactose is a natural sugar that is found in dairy products and because feta cheese is obtained from milk, it is not lactose free. However it does have less lactose than a lot of other dairy products.
When lactose is consumed, it is broken down by the enzyme lactase into glucose and galactose, which is then digested by the body. If you are lactose intolerant, your body is deficient in lactase and consuming lactose can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramps.
Most feta cheese that you come across will be gluten free. However some types of processed feta cheese may not be, because they may have wheat containing ingredients added to them. It is therefore a good idea to read nutrition labels before making a purchase, especially if you are gluten intolerant.
Feta can be consumed as part of an otherwise balanced diet. It is a rich source of protein, calcium and vitamin B12. However it is also high in sodium, saturated fat and calories, so should be consumed in small amounts.