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A Nutritional Guide to Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi cheese is a white, layered cheese identical to mozzarella cheese. People traditionally made it from goat or sheep milk on the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. However, many people now use cow’s milk to prepare it. It has a little spongy feel and is semi-hard, unripened, and brined. It has a tart and salty flavour and no rind. Although you can eat halloumi cheese in its raw form, its high melting point makes it perfect for grilling or frying. Hence, people commonly serve it cooked since it’s easier, and heating enhances the flavour and texture. Cooking diminishes its saltiness, and the texture gets creamier.

Like other dairy products, Halloumi cheese is also abundant in calcium. Calcium is a crucial element for bone health. In addition, halloumi is rich in protein, essential for several bodily processes, including hormone synthesis, immune function, and tissue repair. Furthermore, the high protein and fat content of halloumi aids digestion and keeps blood sugar levels steady.

Nutritional Value of Halloumi Cheese

According to USDA data, around 100 grams of halloumi cheese serving contains:

Calories: 393 kcalsFat: 32.14 gProtein: 25 g Calcium: 893 mgSodium: 1250 mg

Note: The nutritional values mentioned above are for a packaged and brand-specific product. It may slightly differ for different brands.

The HealthifyMe Note

Halloumi contains a small number of carbohydrates from lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk because it gets prepared from goat or sheep’s milk (and sometimes even a little cow’s milk). Halloumi cheese is dense in fat and therefore high in calories. In addition, a serving of halloumi contains a substantial amount of protein. This hard cheese is an excellent calcium source. However, it is also high in sodium content. Hence, it is best to consume it in moderation and without added salt.

Halloumi Cheese: Manufacturing Process

The first step is heating the milk.The next step is adding rennet or vegetable rennetAfter that, the next step is the natural separation of the curd and whey on cooling.Then, one should leave the curd to firm up. The next step is poaching them in the original whey with a bit of saltThe final step is keeping it in brine to preserve the cheese for longer

Health Benefits of Halloumi Cheese

Promotes Bone Health

Like other dairy products, halloumi is rich in calcium, an essential mineral for bone health. Calcium is responsible for strengthening and structuring your bones. Your bones and teeth retain almost 99% of the calcium in your body. Due to these calcium-rich properties, halloumi cheese can maintain the structure of bones and contribute to better bone mineral density. As a result, it prevents osteoporosis and other bone-related issues.

Promotes Muscle Growth

Protein is necessary for many body functions. Since halloumi cheese contains a high amount of protein (100 g serving of halloumi cheese offering 25 g protein), it is muscle-friendly. As a result, it helps support muscular growth, produces enzymes and hormones, and strengthens the immune system.

Keto-Friendly

Halloumi is heavy in protein and fats and low in carbohydrates, like most cheeses, ideal for keto or low-carb meals. Hence, it can be a part of your ket diet. However, it is healthy only if you consume it in moderation. It will keep you satiated and help burn fat. It also aids in the preservation of muscular mass. 

Benefits of Healthy Protein

Halloumi is a high dairy protein cheese. Protein is necessary for various functions in your body, including hormone production, immunological function, and tissue repair. Exercising can help you gain muscle mass and strength if you consume adequate protein in your diet. Protein aids in keeping a lean body mass while losing weight. Additionally, consuming protein after a workout can aid muscle rehabilitation, reducing recovery time and boosting progress.

Supports Healthy Weight Gain

Since halloumi cheese is high in fat, people trying to gain weight can include halloumi cheese in their diet. It has a reasonable amount of protein that supports muscle gain. You can consume halloumi cheese in its raw form or add it to various recipes. However, serving cooked cheese enhances the flavour and texture.

Other Benefits of Halloumi Cheese

Lactose-Free

Lactose intolerance is a spectrum, with some people being able to eat almost any cheese and others experiencing stomach pains after just one mouthful of pizza. Halloumi may be simpler to digest than other cheese variants if you have a lactose sensitivity. That is because goat’s milk has a lower lactose content than cow’s milk.

It Can be a Meat Substitute for Vegetarians

Halloumi is a beneficial nutrient-rich food addition due to its high protein content, especially for lacto-vegetarians. However, not all halloumi cheese is vegetarian-friendly. Some have animal-derived rennet. Therefore, it is essential to read labels carefully. Halloumi’s texture and cooking capabilities make it a versatile meat substitute in meals like burgers and kebabs.

Keeps You Fuller for Longer

Cheese variants like halloumi, which are high in protein and fat, help us stay satiated for longer. Moreover, since halloumi has such intense flavours, one doesn’t need much to make a flavorful dish.

The HealthifyMe Note: 

Due to the availability of calcium in halloumi cheese, it promotes bone health. Furthermore, it is high in protein that aids in muscle growth and has a good amount of fat that assists in weight gain. 

Precautions and Things to Keep in Mind

Dairy Allergy

People who are allergic or intolerant to milk should avoid consuming halloumi cheese. There isn’t much nutritional difference between the many forms of halloumi. However, even with a lactose allergy, sheep or goat’s halloumi may be simpler to digest. Consult a doctor or a dietician about food allergies or intolerances.

High Blood Pressure Patients Should Avoid Halloumi

A high-salt diet impacts the body’s natural sodium balance. As a result, the body retains water, increasing the pressure of blood pushing against artery walls. The salt content of halloumi is relatively high. It contains a whopping 1250 g of sodium per 100g. Hence, it is best to avoid eating halloumi if you have high blood pressure issues. Even if you eat it, you should ensure that you do not add salt to the dish.

Bloating in Some Cases

Halloumi is a salt-brined cheese with high sodium content, and some people are more susceptible to the effects of sodium than others. Therefore, increased consumption can cause problems, including water retention and bloat.

Excess Consumption can Cause Weight Gain

Halloumi cheese is high in calories. So if you are trying to lose weight by reducing your calorie consumption, eating a lot of halloumi cheese may hamper your efforts. Since most people use it in dishes that require frying or dipping in oil, it adds to your fat intake. As a result, it can significantly raise the calorie content, possibly leading to weight gain. However, you can now find lower-calorie halloumi options for your weight-loss plan, but remember that you should not eat it in excess.

Not Vegan-Friendly

Halloumi cheese is not vegan-friendly. Anyone following a strictly plant-based diet cannot consume this cheese because it requires unpasteurised goat or sheep’s milk (occasionally cow’s).

Food Poisoning

Semi-soft white brined cheeses, such as halloumi, can cause food illness. Halloumi is traditionally produced with unpasteurised sheep and goat milk, making it susceptible to listeria contamination. As a result, halloumi food poisoning can occur even after it has been pasteurised and cooked.

The HealthifyMe Note: 

Overeating halloumi cheese can cause diarrhoea, food poisoning, high blood pressure, weight gain and bloating. Furthermore, allergic reactions may be common in people who have a milk allergy. 

Best Ways to Include Halloumi in Your Diet

You can add Halloumi cheese to burgers, sandwiches and salad.You can use halloumi instead of beef, chicken, or other meats in curries. The cheese will absorb some spices while providing a different texture.Cypriots traditionally eat this cheese in a watermelon salad throughout the summer because of its crispy, squeaky texture and salty, fresh lactic flavour.Saganaki, a pan-fried Greek snack, uses halloumi as one of the cheeses.In recent years, halloumi fries have grown extremely popular. You can purchase them ready-made, and making your own involves minimal effort.

Healthy Recipes Using Halloumi

Pan Fried Halloumi Cheese Meze

Servings: 6 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Halloumi cheese (cut into 3/8-inch slices): 1 (8-ounce or 30 g)Olive oil: 1 tbspFreshly ground black pepper: To taste (for garnish)Oregano leaves: To taste (for garnish)Mint leaves: To taste (For garnish)Cherry tomatoes (cut in half): 4-5 (for garnish)Balsamic vinaigrette: To taste (for garnish)

Method

Heat a non-stick frypan over high heat.Using a paper towel, wipe the halloumi cheese slices dry. Place the slices on a platter and lightly brush both sides with the olive oil to thoroughly coat each.Sear the cheese slices in a heated pan until they have a deep brown crust on both sides, about 1 minute on one side and 1 to 2 minutes on the other.Garnish the fried cheese with pepper, oregano or mint leaves, tomatoes, and vinaigrette on a platter.

Note: 

Halloumi smokes during cooking, so make sure there is proper ventilation. It should soften but retain consistency. It should not melt. 

2. Halloumi Burgers

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Halloumi cheese: 250 g block (cut into eight thick slices)Olive oil: 1 tbsp Brioche buns: 4Hummus: 4 tbsp Large ripe tomato, thinly sliced: 1Butterhead lettuce leaves: 4Fresh tomato salsa: 4 tbsp

Method

Preheat a grill until the embers are white-hot. Brush all halloumi slices with olive oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Split the brioche buns in half and spread the hummus on the bottom halves (toast them slightly on both sides if desired, but be cautious not to burn them). Add some tomato, followed by the halloumi, lettuce, and salsa, before topping with the other half of the baguette.Mediterranean Halloumi Salad

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Small red onion, finely sliced: 1/2Medium vine tomatoes, sliced: 6-8 Roasted red and yellow peppers in oil, sliced: 7 tbsp (100g) Caperberries: 15-20 A handful of small black olivesExtra-virgin olive oil: 3 tbsp Packs halloumi: 2*225 g Handful fresh basil leavesCrusty bread to serve

Method

Add cucumber, tomatoes, olives, onion, oregano, fresh mint, lime juice, and one tablespoon of olive oil in a mixing basin, then season to taste. Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.Plate the salad. In a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining oil.Shake off any excess flour before gently dusting the halloumi slices and frying for a few minutes on each side until brown. With the salad, serve immediately.

Shelf Life and Storage

Halloumi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year if not opened. Once opened, store it in salted water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or carefully wrap it in waxed paper, parchment paper, or cheese wrap. Halloumi can be wrapped in plastic or foil and frozen for up to three months before cooking without changing the texture.

Conclusion

Halloumi cheese is a white, layered cheese similar to mozzarella. Typically, people on the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus manufacture it. It is usually made using goat or sheep milk. Halloumi cheese has a minimal amount of carbohydrates, primarily due to lactose. Furthermore, it is high in calories, fats and proteins. It is also a rich source of calcium, making it healthy for the bones.  However, the high sodium content of the cheese makes it a portion of food to consume with caution.

Due to its rich nutritional properties, halloumi cheese encourages bone and muscular development. In addition, since it is low in carbs and high in fats and proteins, it can be a part of the keto diet. It can also be a healthy meat substitute in various dishes like burgers, sandwiches etc. However, people with a dairy allergy, or high blood pressure issues, should exercise caution. In addition, halloumi is not ideal for vegans; even vegetarians should consume it after reading the label carefully. You should also be careful of the risks of bloating and food poisoning. Nevertheless, cheese is tasty, and if consumed in moderation, it can offer several health benefits. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is halloumi healthy for weight loss?

A. Halloumi cheese has a reasonable amount of fat and is high in calories. Hence, it can rapidly add up your calorie intake. Excess calorie consumption can lead to weight gain. However, it also contains enough protein, which benefits muscle development and weight loss. So, if you consume it in moderation and pair it with other healthy foods, it can assist in weight loss. However, it is best to consult an expert nutritionist before adding halloumi cheese to your weight loss diet.

Q. Is halloumi the healthiest cheese?

A. Halloumi, like all types of cheese, has its pros and cons. Halloumi is a salt-brined cheese with high sodium content but is abundant in calcium and protein. It has 40% of the Daily Value for calcium and as much protein as an egg in one serving. However, it is not the healthiest cheese available; cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, feta cheese, etc., are a few more nutritious cheese variants than halloumi cheese. 

Q. Is halloumi healthier than feta?

A. According to USDA, halloumi cheese contains 393 kcals, whereas feta cheese comprises 265kcal. The fat content in halloumi is 32.14g, whereas, in feta, it is 21.5g. Halloumi has a higher protein content (25g) while feta has a lower (14.2g). Halloumi cheese has a good amount of calcium (893mg) and sodium (1250mg). In contrast, feta cheese has a significant amount of carbohydrates (3.88g), calcium (493mg), folate (32µg), zinc (2.88mg) and vitamin A (422 IU) vitamin B12 (1.69µg) and vitamin K (1.8µg). Since feta cheese holds more nutrients than halloumi, it can be considered healthier. 

Q. Is halloumi good for bodybuilding?

A. Dairy products like Halloumi cheese are good for body-building as they have amino acids necessary to repair worn muscles. In addition, halloumi is high in protein with a 1:1 protein to fat ratio. One hundred grams of halloumi has an impressive 25g of muscle-friendly protein, making it beneficial for bodybuilders.

Q. Is halloumi fat or protein?

A. Halloumi is rich in both protein and fat. According to USDA data, 100 g serving of halloumi cheese contains 25 g of protein and 32.14 g of fat. 

Q. What is halloumi made from?

A. Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese from Cyprus that people prepare using cow, sheep, or goat milk. Halloumi is made by heating milk and adding rennet or vegetarian rennet. The curds and whey separate naturally as they cool. The curds are then allowed to harden up before being poached in whey with a bit of salt and preserved in brine to keep the cheese fresh.

Q. Can you eat halloumi raw?

A. Yes, you can eat raw halloumi cheese. People serve it raw in many dishes, including pasta recipes, paired with grilled capsicum or big mushrooms, grated on salads, and many more. However, cooking can enhance its texture and flavour. In addition, cooking can also diminish its salt content.

Q. Is halloumi cheese good for weight loss?

A. Considering halloumi cheese for weight loss is not a good option. Even though it has a good amount of protein, it is also high in fat. Therefore, it is recommended not to consume halloumi for weight loss. Instead, low-fat/non-fat cottage cheese or tofu can assist in your weight loss journey. 

Q. How many calories are in 100g of halloumi?

A. Halloumi has a significant amount of calories. It is high in saturated fats. According to USDA data, 100 g serving of halloumi cheese contains 393 kcal.

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