🥙 Nutrition

10 Lowest-Calorie Cheese For Dairy Lovers

POSTED ON Mar 24, 2022
# NAME Calories per 100gProtein per 100g
132 cal17g
158 cal10.4g
270 cal16.6g
298 cal22g
356 cal25g
374 cal32g
378 cal30.9g
393 cal27g
403 cal24.6g
10 Lowest-Calorie Cheese For Dairy Lovers

Australians love their cheese. We’re giving the French a run for their money with the average Aussie consuming 13.4kg of cheese per year.

Cheese does have a bad wrap, largely thanks to the controversy over fats. However, the theory dietary fats make you fat has been debunked. So let’s move on from that!

If you are watching your waistline, you may tend to pass on the cheese platter. But consumption of cheese can be part of your weight management and enhance your health if you choose the right ones.

Key Takeaways

  • Watch your portions
  • Pair cheeses with foods naturally low in sodium
  • Avoid fat-free or flavoured options due to the extreme processing
  • Steer clear of the rich, creamy cheeses like brie and camembert
  • Healthiest options – fetta or ricotta
  • Lower salt options – swiss, cottage, ricotta
  • Higher protein – cottage, blue, swiss, goat

Is cheese healthy for you?

Quality cheese can offer many nutritional benefits for those who can consume it. It’s naturally low in carbohydrates, a good source of protein and filled with essential fatty acids.

Cheese is also rich in calcium and offers other nutrients such as B vitamins, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin K and zinc. Many varieties also a source of probiotics – the beneficial bacteria that populate your gut.

Consumption of cheese may help with maintaining optimal cholesterol levels, support bone health, reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.

That said, as a clinical nutritionist, I see a lot of people who struggle to digest dairy including cheese. This can be due to a number of reasons including poor digestive capacity, lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy. There are also others who I recommend reduce or eliminate their consumption of dairy products if it may be aggrevating their symptoms or a health condition, or contributing to an increase in inflammation.

Cheese varies greatly in quality with some healthier than others and it’s not just about calories. Some cheeses are made of minimal ingredients using traditional aging methods or left natural. Others are highly processed with a number of ingredients to extend its lifetime, improve its texture and enhance its taste. It’s safe to say the latter are not going to help you reap any health benefits.

Whether cheese is healthy for you is also down to what you pair the cheese with and how much you’re eating.

Cheese unfortunately is often paired with foods like pizza, burgers, nachos and dips. Not to mention the wine and beer! It’s also very easy to overeat particularly if you’re faced with a delicious cheese board of your favourites.

10 lowest-calorie cheeses for dairy lovers

If you’re a cheese lover, you’re going to be happy to hear there are lots of cheeses that can be part of a well-balanced diet, even if you’re counting calories.

Cottage Cheese

Calories per 100g: 132 cal

Protein per 100g: 17g

Carbohydrates per 100g: 1.8g

Total Fat per 100g: 5.7g

Sodium per 100g: 277mg

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What’s good?
Low in calories
High in protein
Versatile
What’s not so good?
Can be high in sodium
Some brands use poor ingredients

If you’ve tried a weight loss or bodybuilding diet, you’ve probably eaten a meal or snack using cottage cheese. That’s because cottage cheese is the lowest-calorie cheese around and it’s high in protein.

It also contains a great source of nutrients including calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus and selenium.

However, not all cottage cheese is the same nutritionally. Some will have added sugar, salt, preservatives and thickeners. Some cottage cheese will also be predominately made of skim milk, whereas others will be full-cream milk-based.

Cottage cheese can be high in sodium which needs to be considered if you are eating it regularly. It pays to check the ingredients and nutrition information to compare products and find an option best for you.

Ricotta

Calories: 158 cal

Protein : 10.4g

Carboydrates: 2.7g

Total Fat: 11.8g

Sodium : 170mg

What’s good?
Good source of protein
Low GI
Moderate sodium
What’s not so good?
Can sour quickly if not stored properly

Ricotta is one of the lowest-calorie cheeses at approximately 158 calories per 100g (depending on the brand). It’s typically made from cow’s milk whey, and some curd, so a good source of protein. Ricotta can also be made from sheep or goat’s milk.

Ricotta has a low glycemic index, rich in calcium and essential fatty acids, as well as antioxidants such as selenium.

Ricotta can be used sweet or savoury. Throw it in an omelette or scrambled eggs. Make a creamy dip to serve with veggie sticks or add a dollop onto toast. For a sweet dessert, serve ricotta with roasted peaches. Or mix it with some fresh berries finished with nuts and seeds.

Fetta

Calories: 270 cal

Protein : 16.6g

Carboydrates: 0.4g

Total Fat: 22.3g

Sodium : 1100mg

What’s good?
Good source of fatty acids
Can be easier to digest
High in protein
What’s not so good?
High sodium

Fetta is another soft, creamy cheese that is lower in calories. Fetta is typically made from sheep and goat’s milk which can be an option for those who can’t digest cow’s milk (it does, however, contain lactose).

Fetta is considered a low-fat cheese but is a good source of fatty acids that may be beneficial in heart health and weight loss. It’s no wonder, fetta cheese is featured regularly in the Meditteranean diet.

As salt is used when making fetta, some brands are high in sodium. Again, you must read the nutrition labels and ingredients to determine whether fetta is suitable for you.

Mozzarella

Calories: 298 cal

Protein : 22g

Carboydrates: 0g

Total Fat: 22g

Sodium : 522mg

What’s good?
High in protein
Versatile
What’s not so good?
Some brands overly processed

Mozzarella offers a similar nutrient profile to the above soft cheeses – low in calories, containing protein, fat, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and selenium. It also contains sodium but is lower than many other cheese varieties.

Mozzarella is available whole or shredded. I always recommend opting for the whole form as the shredded varieties will contain preservatives and anti-caking agents to avoid the cheese pieces sticking and clumping together.

This cheese can be part of a healthy diet. It’s what you do with the mozzarella that has a bigger impact.

Gouda

Calories: 356 cal

Protein : 25g

Carbohydrates: 2.2g

Total Fat: 27g

Sodium : 819mg

What’s good?
High in protein
Variety of texture and flavours
What’s not so good?
Some over processed varieties

Made of cow’s milk, gouda is an aged cheese that varies in texture and flavour.

As with other cheeses, gouda contains a good source of calcium and protein. It also has a significant amount of dietary fats, vitamin B12, B5, B6, zinc and sodium.

Similarly, the nutrient content and ingredients will vary from brand to brand with some containing preservatives and colours. I generally suggest people steer clear of those cheeses that have been prepared in easy to eat forms like sliced or shredded. However, in this case, you can find some that don’t contain nasties like Woolworths Gouda Cheese Slices.

One thing to consider is it’s pretty easy to consume more than one serving of gouda and a large number of calories. If watching your calorie intake is important, measure out your portion before eating and put the rest of the block away out of reach!

Parmesan cheese

Calories per 100g: 374 cal

Protein per 100g: 32g

Carbohydrates per 100g: 0g

Total Fat per 100g: 27g

Sodium per 100g: 1000g

What’s good?
Not typically eaten in high quantities
Good protein and fat source
Naturally lactose free
What’s not so good?
Higher in calories due to fat and protein content

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano Reggiano, packs a punch in flavour and nutrition.

Yes, it is higher in calories than many other kinds of cheese due to its high fat and protein content, but it has other benefits.

The fat itself is made up of medium and short-chain fatty acids which are easily absorbed by the body and used for energy. Parmesan cheese is also often used in small portions such as fine shavings on a salad or a sprinkle on top of pasta.

Most people find parmesan cheese easily digested as it’s lactose-free and considered safe for those with lactose intolerance. Say goodbye to bloating, gas and alternating bowel movements.

Blue cheese

Calories: 378 cal

Protein : 30.9g

Carbohydrates: 0g

Total Fat: 32.4g

Sodium : 1090mg

What’s good?
High protein
Most made with minimal ingredients
Large variety of types
What’s not so good?
Overpowering smell and taste
High sodium

Blue cheese is arguably one of the most divisive options on the cheeseboard. In addition to its mould cultures, its overpowering smell and bold taste can put people off immediately.

In terms of nutrients, blue cheese sits in towards the higher end of our 10 lowest-calorie cheese list. It’s also particularly high in calcium and dietary fats as well as the nutrients phosphorous, vitamin A and zinc. Blue cheese is one of the higher options in sodium.

You can find a variety of blue cheeses available such as Roquefort, gorgonzola or danish blue. It’s also available in reduce-fat. The nutritional content of blue cheese will change depending on the option you select.

The good news is that many of the brands contain minimal ingredients with no preservatives and thickeners.

Swiss cheese

Calories per 100g: 393 cal

Protein per 100g: 27g

Carbohydrates per 100g: 1.4g

Total Fat per 100g: 31g

Sodium per 100g: 185mg

What’s good?
High in protein
Minimally processed options
Low in sodium
What’s not so good?
Easy to over eat

A classic cartoon cheese, Swiss cheese is a mild-tasting, low-calorie option made of cow’s milk. The holey form is actually caused by gas bubbles produced by the lactic bacteria.

As far as cheeses go, Swiss cheese is a great option in terms of ingredients with most containing minimal, natural ingredients. This is also the case with pre-sliced swiss cheese products.

Swiss cheese is also relatively low in sodium, but still high in protein which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Cheddar Cheese

Calories per 100g: 403 cal

Protein per 100g: 24.6g

Carbohydrates per 100g: 0.3g

Total Fat per 100g: 33.5g

Sodium per 100g: 686mg

What’s good?
Versatile
Low lactose content
High protein
What’s not so good?
Can be overly processed
Higher in calories, fat and sodium

Cheddar cheese is a popular variety for its versatility and taste. But it is higher in calories than many kinds of cheese as well as fat and sodium.

The increase in calories and fat does make it more satisfying and it can work well for those on a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. As a hard, aged cheese, cheddar can be easier for people to digest due to its lower lactose content.

Cheddar cheese does vary in quality. Steer clear of shredded or sliced cheddar due to the preservatives and anti-caking agents. I also recommend you put back the string cheese sticks and definitely pass on the singles due to the large number of artificial ingredients used.

Final Verdict

Dairy isn’t for everyone but quality cheeses can be part of a well-balanced diet if your body can digest them. Due to the natural protein and fat content, there is no such thing as a “low calorie” cheese but there are options that can fit into your calorie requirements.

The key is choosing a quality product that’s minimally processed. Watch the sodium content and those added ingredients like preservatives, flavours, anti-caking agents and colours.

Above all, consider what you’re serving your cheese with and how much you’re consuming. This is really what is going to push your calorie intake for the day over the edge.

Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford is a registered clinical nutritionist who believes achieving optimal health and wellbeing relies on living with intention.

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Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford is a registered clinical nutritionist who believes achieving optimal health and wellbeing relies on living with intention.