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Feta Cheese: The Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Cheese

Greek feta cheese is a versatile and often overlooked ingredient that you can use to prepare anything from dips to salads to sandwiches. It is a soft, white cheese that originated in Greece. Usually, people make it using cow’s milk. The cheese has a salty, tangy flavour and is rich in protein and calcium. It is also low in fat. Feta cheese is also an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering vitamin B12 and contains various essential minerals. 

The name feta originated from Greece, and it means slice. This style of cheese was first produced in the 17th century when cheese was sliced and placed into barrels. Feta cheese has many health benefits like it reduces the risk of heart diseases, fights cancer and keeps your mind sharp. This article discusses in detail all about feta cheese and how it may help you prevent weight gain, heart ailments, and other health risks.

Nutritional Properties of Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is full of healthy nutrients, minerals and vitamins, making it an excellent source of providing several essential nutrients and improving overall health. 

As per USDA, 100g of feta cheese provides:

Energy:  265 KcalProtein: 14.2 gCarbohydrate: 3.88 gTotal Lipids (Fat): 21.5 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium: 493 mgIron: 0.65 mgSodium: 1140 gMagnesium: 19 mgPhosphorous: 337 mgPotassium: 62 mgSelenium: 15 µgVitamin D: 16 IUVitamin A: 422 IU

The HealthifyMe Note

Feta cheese is low in carbohydrates and has a high protein content, making it healthy for weight management. Moreover, it has beneficial nutrients for the heart, such as magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Hence, it may help reduce the risk of heart disease and hypertension. Most of its fat content is highly saturated fat. However, the levels depend on the production process. 

Health Benefits of Feta Cheese

The rich nutritional profile of Feta cheese makes it a healthy ingredient for snacks and meals. Besides essential nutrients, it also contains B-vitamins and magnesium, necessary for a healthy metabolism. Here are some of the most significant health benefits of feta cheese.

Improves Digestive Health

Probiotics in dairy products offer health benefits if they contain Lactobacilli bacteria, which can aid digestion. Although Yoghurt is one of the most significant sources of these bacteria, other products like feta cheese also have them. 

Researchers found that the good bacteria in feta cheese can survive in the stomach’s low pH environment. Hence, feta cheese aids digestion even when you have an empty stomach.

Feta Cheese Improves Bone Health

Calcium and protein are two vital nutrients for healthy bone development in kids. However, research shows that calcium intake is necessary for bone health at all stages of life. 

Feta cheese is rich in calcium and protein. Hence, it is beneficial for your bones. Calcium is essential for bone development and maintenance. A study suggests that protein reduces the effect of post-fracture bone loss and increases muscle strength. Proteins improve bone health by increasing calcium absorption and muscle mass and suppressing parathyroid hormone.

Getting adequate protein and calcium can prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis, which is especially helpful for mature individuals. According to research, calcium can help with the bone density loss caused by menopause and reduce the risk of fractures.

Feta cheese consumption can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Although dairy products, like feta cheese, are high in saturated fat, they are also a good source of B vitamins, calcium and phosphorus, which helps combat many conditions relating to coronary heart diseases. 

According to research, calcium intake is beneficial for the heart. Furthermore, it is essential to supplement it with vitamin D for better absorption, which proves helpful in protecting against CVDs. Although feta cheese offers vitamin D, pairing it with more vitamin D-rich foods will help improve your cardiovascular health.

Vitamin Absorption

Without sufficient fat in your diet, you may experience a fat-soluble vitamin deficiency, like vitamin D deficiency. It usually occurs when consuming only foods with no fat. Without fats, you risk developing problems with fat-soluble vitamins such as D. Vitamin D deficiency can impact the health of your bones, immune system and cells. Although it is not clear how much feta cheese you need to eat to provide enough vitamin D, adding it to your meals might help. Feta cheese is also rich in Vitamin B 12 and Vitamin A, which significantly benefit the body.

Feta Cheese Aids Weight Management

Again, the role of calcium in weight management is pretty evident. According to a study, calcium intake helps reduce body weight, BMI and waist circumference. However, it requires more research to come to a conclusion. 

Feta cheese is also rich in proteins. Research suggests that a protein-rich diet boosts metabolism. Proteins also make you feel fuller for longer and increase satiety. As a result, they decrease your appetite and help you lose weight healthily.

Recipes Using Feta Cheese

Mushroom Stuffed Feta Cheese

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil: 3 tbspClove garlic (minced): 1Ground pepper: ½ tspPortobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems and gills removed: 4Chopped spinach: 125 gramsQuartered cherry tomatoes: ½ cup Crumbled feta cheese: ⅓ cup Kalamata olives, Pitted and sliced: 2 tbspFresh oregano:1 tbsp

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add olive oil, garlic, and pepper to a small bowl. With a silicone brush, coat the mushrooms with the mixture. Line the baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes until soft. Combine spinach, tomatoes, feta, olives, oregano and the remaining oil in a bowl. Once the mushrooms are baked and softened, fill them with the mixture. Then, bake again for 10 minutes until the tomatoes start wilting.Your delicious and healthy stuffed mushroom is ready to serve.

Note: Avoid adding salt to the recipe as feta cheese already has high sodium content. Any additional salt can make it harmful.

Feta Cheese Scrambled Eggs with Spinach

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil: 1 tspFrozen chopped spinach: 200 gLarge eggs (beaten): 8Feta cheese: ¼ cupPepper to tasteSun-dried tomato pesto: 8 tsp (50 g)Whole-wheat pitas (cut in half): 4

Procedure:

Heat oil in the pan and add the half-cut spinach and cook it in the pan. Don’t overcook it. After cooking the spinach, stir the eggs and pour them into the pan. Mix it well with spinach. Now add feta cheese and pepper according to your taste. Leave for 4 to 5 mins.Then add pesto and cook for another 2 mins. Your scrambled egg is ready to serve.

Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients

Large eggplants: 2Extra-virgin olive oil: 2 tbspMedium red onion (finely chopped): 1Tomato paste: 1 tbspGround cumin: ½ tspGarlic (minced): 2 clovesCanned diced tomatoes: 1 cup (250 ml)Medium red bell pepper: 1Flat-leaf parsley, chopped: ½ cup (125 ml)Pitted Kalamata olives, quartered: ⅓ cup (85 ml)Red-wine vinegar: 1 tbspCrumbled feta cheese: ¾ cup (205 ml)Dill and oregano, for garnish

Procedure

Position the oven rack in the upper third of the baking dish, and preheat to 400 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Now, scoop out the flesh from the halves, leaving about a ½-inch border on all sides. Coarsely chop the flesh and set it aside.Drizzle the insides of the eggplant shells evenly with one tablespoon of oil Place them cut-side up on a prepared baking sheet. Bake until they are tender, then turn the oven to broil to finish roasting.Add cumin, garlic, tomato paste and canned tomatoes to a skillet to heat over medium-high heat. Once the sauce starts to cook, add them and chopped eggplant. Leave in the pan for 8-10 minutes until the eggplant is tender. Then finish with parsley and olives to taste.Divide the filling evenly among the eggplant shells. Then, add feta cheese to each top. Then, broil the eggplant until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then serve with fresh dill and oregano.

Storage and Precautions

It is essential to refrigerate your cheese to preserve its freshness. You should also store it in a sealed container to prevent moulding or moisture loss. A good rule of thumb is to throw out the cheese one week after opening it, as it does not have a longer shelf life.

Since feta cheese contains a high amount of sodium, it is essential to consume it in moderation. Excess sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and kidney-related issues. Furthermore, feta cheese’s high calorie and fat content can also lead to weight gain if you consume it in excess. Hence, you should always eat it in moderation. People who are lactose intolerant should also avoid consuming feta cheese as it is made using cow’s milk. However, you can consult your healthcare provider or nutritionist before consuming feta cheese if you have a milk allergy.

The HealthifyMe Note

Feta cheese does not have a long shelf life. Hence, storing it in the refrigerator in a sealed container is essential. Also, do not store it beyond one month after you open the packaging. Feta cheese does not have many adverse effects if you consume it in moderation. However, excess consumption can lead to uncomfortable stomach symptoms like bloating, flatulence, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhoea. In addition, lactose-intolerant people should avoid its consumption or have it only after consulting with their doctor.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a cheese with remarkable nutritional properties, look no further than feta. Feta is a type of cheese made from milk that has been drained and curdled. This process gives feta its distinctive salty and tangy flavour. It also has high levels of vitamin B12, phosphorus, and protein. Besides these health benefits, feta is cholesterol-free and contains less lactose than other types of cheese. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is feta cheese healthy?

A. Feta cheese can be a healthy addition to your diet as it provides essential nutrients like calcium and protein. In addition, it has various health benefits like regulating blood pressure, improving digestive health, and promoting heart and bone health. Besides its health benefits, feta cheese is also delicious and versatile food.

Q. Is feta cheese good for weight loss?

A. Feta cheese contains a reasonable amount of protein and calcium. Proteins regulate your appetite as they keep you satiated for long. In addition, proteins also improve metabolism, which helps you healthily lose weight. Furthermore, a study suggests that supplemental calcium during caloric restriction would enhance body weight and fat loss.

Q. What are the benefits of eating feta cheese?

A. With a rich nutritional profile, feta cheese can benefit you in many ways. For example, it improves bone health and strengthens them. Furthermore, it improves cardiovascular health and may aid in weight loss. Feta is easier to digest and less allergenic. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B12, calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for a healthy body.

You can swap your cheddars and Parmesan with Feta cheese as feta cheese is lower in fat than cheddar and parmesan, which contain more saturated fats.

Q. Is feta cheese a probiotic?

A. Feta cheese contains Lactobacillus Plantarum, which is a probiotic. According to research,  probiotics have several health benefits, including improving intestinal health, boosting immunity, reducing inflammation and reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Q. Is feta inflammatory?

A. Feta cheese has bacterial cultures that are good for immune, intestinal and anti-inflammatory health. Besides that, it contains histidine, which, when combined with vitamin B6, produces histamine. Histamine is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.

Q. Does feta cheese cause bloating?

A. Feta cheese is better off consumed by people who have no dairy allergies because it triggers natural reactions such as stomach cramps and flatulence. Lactose intolerance eventually fixes these symptoms once the cheese exits your system.

Q. Is feta cheese Keto?

A. No, although feta cheese is high in proteins, you should consume it in moderation. Consuming an excess of feta cheese is not suitable for a keto diet. Feta Cheese is high in fat, but it contains a fair amount of carbohydrates which may not be ideal for a diet if consumed in excess.

Q. Is feta cheese good for your heart?

A. Fresh cheeses like feta and goat cheese have less fat than ripened cheeses and should be consumed when trying to eat a heart-healthy diet. Feta is a good source of calcium, vitamin B12 and phosphorus. They are known for promoting heart health by preventing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Q. Is feta cheese good for high blood pressure?

A. As per research, calcium helps regulate blood pressure. Therefore, since feta cheese contains high calcium, it may benefit people with high blood pressure. In addition, feta cheese contains trace antioxidants, which may prevent high blood pressure. However,  feta cheese also has too much sodium. Hence, overconsumption may lead to adverse health effects, especially blood pressure spikes. 

Q. Can feta cheese make you sick?

A. Some people are concerned about the health effects of feta cheese because it can contain high levels of bacteria and mould. Most studies do suggest that feta cheese does not make you sick. However, it may lead to listeria food poisoning. Hence, you should consume it carefully and in moderation.

Q. Is feta cheese hard on your stomach?

A. Feta cheese is considered to be healthy when eaten in moderation. However, overeating feta cheese can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating, flatulence, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhoea.

Q. Does feta cheese cause inflammation?

A. Studies have found that the cheese does not appear to increase inflammation in people who consume it. Moreover, feta cheese has probiotics which may have anti-inflammatory benefits for the body. 

Q. Does feta cheese cause gas?

A. To a normal person, it may not cause flatulence. Still, cheese can be uncomfortable for a person with lactose intolerance because it causes bloating and nausea. Symptoms will eventually go away when the cheese leaves your system. However, you should avoid feta cheese if you are severely allergic to dairy.

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