Having a healthy diet is a crucial part of managing type 2 diabetes. Measuring carbs, sugar, calories, and more are some indispensable steps to creating a great meal plan.
In this scenario, cheese and other dairy products have become a sticking point. It is believed that cheese is not good for diabetes. However, cheese can actually be a healthy component of your meal plan if you have type 2 diabetes, as long as it is consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
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It is a common myth that people with type 2 diabetes should avoid consuming cheese and other dairy products.
The truth is that cheese can actually have many health benefits for people with diabetes when consumed moderately. There are several reasons why it is safe and even beneficial.
Cheese can be included in any diet because it contains protein, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats. Cheese can be a great addition to a type 2 diabetes diet as long as it is consumed in moderation.
At least one study¹ has found that cheese may actually be able to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Cheese is a great source of protein and is high in calcium. Most cheeses are also high in vitamins such as A, D, B6, and B12. Some contain minerals like iron, phosphorus, and potassium as well. Other cheeses, like mozzarella and feta, have healthy bacteria that are beneficial for the digestive system.
It is important to read nutrition labels for each type of cheese you want to consume as amounts of calories, nutrients, salt, and fat per serving can differ.
Regardless of whether a person has diabetes or not, cheese should be consumed in moderation. This means paying attention to nutrition labels, especially looking for things like calories, saturated fats, protein, and salt content.
The exact amount of cheese one should consume will depend on a number of factors, including height, weight, gender, and whether the goal is to lose, gain, or maintain weight. Talking to a dietician is a great way to figure out exactly how much cheese should be consumed daily.
It turns out that cheese may be able to help control blood sugar. This is because most cheeses contain little to no carbohydrates, putting them very low on the glycemic index (GI) scale.
An important part of managing diabetes is knowing where different foods fall on the GI scale to understand how that food will affect their blood sugar level.
Cheese can help maintain glucose levels because it is low on the GI scale. The GI scale rates foods (from 1 to 100) based on how quickly they cause blood sugar levels to rise. The quicker a food causes blood sugar levels to rise, the higher it is on the glycemic index.
Foods high on the glycemic index should be avoided or limited by those with type 2 diabetes, as those foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Because most cheeses do not cause blood sugar to be raised quickly, eating cheese can help keep blood sugar levels stable.
While cheese can be part of a balanced diet, not all cheeses are created equal. Some cheeses contain more calories per serving, some have high salt content, while others are chock full of artificial flavorings and colors.
Here are some of the healthiest cheese options for people with type 2 diabetes.
Goat cheese may be the healthiest cheese option for people with type 2 diabetes. It contains 102 calories and 6 grams of protein per ounce and includes vitamins A, B2, B12, D, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
Despite containing lactose, goat cheese is easier to digest than other cheeses, making it a good dairy substitute for people with lactose intolerance. This type of cheese typically has a similar texture to cream cheese, making it easy to use as a healthier alternative.
Cottage cheese is a great low-calorie cheese option at only 27 calories per ounce. It is commonly used in weight-loss diets because it is low in calories and a great source of protein and calcium.
Cottage cheese is also great for people who need to limit their salt intake, as it has the lowest salt content of over 600 varieties of cheese. In fact, most soft cheeses and less aged cheeses tend to have lower salt content.
It can also be used in several recipes and included as part of snacks and lunches. Cottage cheese goes great with fruits, nuts, crackers, and seeds.
For a high protein choice, choose romano cheese. It is a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk and has 7 grams of protein and 110 calories per ounce. This cheese does have a higher sodium content and should be consumed in moderation.
Romano cheese is high in omega-6 fatty acids and has similar vitamins to most cheeses. It tastes delicious when grated onto salads and vegetables.
Cheddar cheese is one of the most popular cheeses worldwide, and the cheddar cheese market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 3% by 2029. It is popular primarily because of its versatility and range of flavor profiles.
Cheddar cheese contains 6 grams of protein and 115 calories per ounce. While it is good for people with type 2 diabetes, cheddar cheeses with artificial flavorings and colors should be avoided.
Natural cheddar cheese is usually off-white in color and contains B vitamins, vitamin A, and calcium. It can be used in a wide variety of recipes but should be eaten in moderation.
Like cottage cheese, feta cheese is a low-calorie favorite used for weight loss. It has 74 calories and 4.4 grams of protein per ounce. This cheese is typically made from fermented sheep or goat milk (or a combination of the two), giving it a tangy flavor.
Feta cheese has the second-lowest salt content among cheeses, making it great for low sodium diets. Because it is fermented, it also contains healthy bacteria called probiotics that can help improve gut health and digestion.
Mozzarella cheese is the most popular cheese in the United States and is a staple in many Italian recipes. One ounce has only 85 calories but 6.3 grams of protein.
Like feta cheese, mozzarella contains beneficial probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. It is great for people with type 2 diabetes because of its protein and calorie content, vitamins and minerals, and low sodium.
There are some risks associated with eating cheese for people with type 2 diabetes. These risks are usually associated with cheese overconsumption.
Eating cheese in moderation has health benefits, but overdoing it can negatively impact health. One of the main risk factors associated with eating cheese with type 2 diabetes is an increased risk of obesity, as many kinds of cheese are calorie-dense.
People with diabetes and insulin resistance are already at risk for obesity, so avoiding foods that can increase this risk is essential for diabetics.
Additionally, according to Hopkins Medicine, the risk of developing heart disease is four times higher² in people with diabetes that have elevated blood pressure. Consuming too much sodium can cause an increase in blood pressure, so it is important to limit salt intake to keep it under control.
Several kinds of cheese have high salt contents, so eating them in moderation is essential to staying healthy.
Cheese is also high in saturated fats. These fats are harmless in small amounts, but in large ones can contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Consuming too much cheese can increase the risk of developing these conditions.
Finally, chronic and excessive fat consumption plays a role in insulin resistance development. Therefore, in the long term, cheese consumption on a high-calorie diet can increase insulin resistance and facilitate diabetes development.
Eating healthy is important to help manage symptoms of type 2 diabetes. While there are myths that state those with diabetes should not consume dairy, these products, including cheese, can actually be beneficial when consumed in moderate amounts. Cheese, in particular, can actually be great at helping to manage blood sugar levels because of its low glycemic index.
Not all cheeses are created equal, as some have higher calories, saturated fats, and salt content. Choosing healthy cheeses low in salt can help manage symptoms of type 2 diabetes better than cheeses with artificial flavorings and colors.
There are risks associated with eating too much cheese, but these can be minimized by paying attention to nutrition labels and consuming cheese in healthy amounts.
Diabetes and high blood pressure | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Mozzarella still America's most popular cheese | U.S. Department of Agriculture