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Monterey Jack: The Superhero of Cheese

Monterey Jack would be the sweet-tempered SuperMelter if cheeses were superheroes. This semi-hard cheese from California melts like an ice cream cone in Death Valley. However, it has a mild flavour that won’t overpower other ingredients. 

Monterey Jack is a semi-hard white cheese manufactured from cow’s milk from California. It has a subtle sweetness and a moderate flavour. People often describe it as “an American original” that “derives from a Franciscan monastic type of farmer’s cheese during Spanish rule in the early nineteenth century.” Since its origins among the Mexican Franciscan friars of Monterey, California, Monterey Jack has earned its deserved place as a real “American” cheese. These monasteries in the Monterey area began creating a semi-firm, creamy, mild-flavoured cheese from cow’s milk in the 1700s.

David Jack, an American entrepreneur, saw its commercial significance and began distributing it around California. The cheese was first known as “Monterey Jack’s” or “Jack’s Monterey” before being renamed Monterey Jack. You can often use this cheese in Mexican and Spanish cuisine because of its mild flavour and ability to melt. It has a taste and texture comparable to Colby and Cheddar. Monterey Jack varieties such as Dry Jack (aged) and Pepper Jack (pepper seasoned) are also popular. You can find Monterey Jack in all supermarkets and grocery stores.

The HealthifyMe Note

The Monterey Jack cheese is a popular cheese form with a sweet and moderate flavour. It is made using pasteurised milk, cheese culture and salt enzymes. It is a common ingredient in Mexican and Spanish cuisine. This cheese has existed since the 17th century and is known for its versatile utility, mild flavour and excellent health benefits. However, it also has some adverse effects. Hence, one should consume it in moderation. 

Variants of Monterey Jack Cheese

Dry Jack

In 1915, a San Francisco wholesaler forgot about many fresh Jack wheels he had stored and developed Dry Jack by mistake. He recovered the wheels, which had aged into a product his clients found to be a good substitute for classic hard cheeses like Parmesan. Unfortunately, this was when World War I disrupted shipments of hard cheese from Europe. Dry Monterey Jack is an aged variant of the cheese. It is shredded and used in the same way as Parmesan cheese.

Pepper Jack

Pepper Jack is a Monterey Jack derivative with fiery chilli peppers, bell peppers, and spices. Monterey Jack adds hot chilli peppers and different herbs and peppers to improve the flavour. Recipes like quesadillas also use this cheese as a substitute for Jack cheese. As a snack, you could serve it with crackers or toast. You can also find other varieties flavoured with pesto or garlic, but they are less prevalent than pepper Jack.

Blends

Making with Colby (to make Colby-Jack) or a yellow cheddar cheese adds flavour and visual appeal.

Nutritional Value of Monterey Jack 

As per USDA, 100 grams of Monterey Jack contains the following nutritional values.

Energy: 357 kcalProtein: 25 gLipid (fat): 28.6 gCarbohydrate: 0 gFibre, total dietary: 0 gSugars: 0 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Various vitamins and minerals are present in Monterey Jack.

Calcium, Ca: 714 mgSodium, Na: 607 mgVitamin A, IU: 1070 IUFatty acids, total saturated: 17.9 gCholesterol: 107 mg

Health Benefits of Monterey Jack

Regulates Blood Fluids

This cheese contains high amounts, specifically 607 mg of Sodium content present in it. It is an excellent source of minerals, particularly sodium. Studies recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, equivalent to only one teaspoon of table salt. The body needs sodium to maintain fluid levels. Balance of fluid and sodium is necessary for heart, liver, and kidney health. In addition, it regulates blood fluids and prevents low blood pressure.

Helps in Weight Management

Monterey Jack cheese is a good source of protein, with 6 grams per serving. The reduced-fat version is even better, with 7 grams of protein per serving. Eating meals keep you full to help keep hunger at bay, and protein is the most satiating nutrient. In addition, consistent eating throughout the day may help you avoid overeating at your next meal. 

Studies show that nutritionists have promoted higher-protein diets as a successful way to prevent or treat obesity by improving body weight management for the past 20 years. Modulations in energy metabolism, appetite, and energy intake are likely responsible for these changes.

Regulates Blood Pressure

Maintaining sodium and fluid balance is essential in regulating blood pressure. As per research, a concept of pressure natriuresis is the mechanism through which the kidney can preserve a normal BP. It does this through its functions to regulate volume homeostasis and develop sodium reabsorption. Monterey Jack contains high amounts of sodium content. Thus, limited consumption of sodium helps regulate blood pressure and prevent low blood pressure. In addition, calcium can help reduce blood pressure. 

Research shows that a calcium-rich diet (>1000 mg calcium daily) slightly decreases blood pressure.

Improves Bone Health 

Monterey Jack is rich in calcium content. Studies suggest calcium is vital in preventing bone loss and osteoporotic fractures later in life. Meta-analyses report that calcium supplementation reduces bone loss by 0.5-1.2% and the risk of fracture of all types by at least 10% in older people. Unfortunately, low calcium intake is a widespread problem across countries and age groups. To prevent osteoporosis and related fractures, adequate calcium intake throughout the lifetime is essential for bone health.

Suitable for Carb Counters

If you are looking for low-carb items, Monterey Jack cheese is a delicious low-carb snack or addition to your roasted broccoli and grilled chicken supper. It is a perfect option to add to your menu and can help control your blood sugar due to type 2 diabetes. It is hugely keto-friendly as well.

Research shows that low carbohydrate (low-carb) diets are an effective strategy for weight loss. Also, this is because it works on lowering insulin which plays a vital role in a fat-storing state, improves cardiometabolic function and enhances weight loss. 

Option for Lactose Intolerant People

The principal carbohydrate in cow’s milk is lactose. You might want to avoid dairy products to avoid digestive issues if you’re lactose intolerant. You will experience gas, bloating, and diarrhoea when consuming lactose-containing meals because your body can’t break down lactose.

Some lactose-intolerant people have learned that they don’t have to avoid all dairy products, especially low-carb cheeses like Monterey Jack. You can benefit from the protein and calcium in this dairy meal without experiencing indigestion, as manufacturers remove most lactose during the cheese-making process. Furthermore, research indicates that natural cheeses like Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, and Swiss have meagre amounts of lactose. But to be on the safe side, gradually introduce small amounts, observe body response and accordingly can increase to the advised portion size or skip if you see any allergic reactions.

Good for Skin and Complexion

Research shows that essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s and omega-6s, are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and are crucial components of a natural skincare diet. These polyunsaturated fats also contribute to the skin’s natural oil barrier, essential for keeping skin moisturised, plumper, and younger-looking. 

Improves Dental Health

As per research, Monterey Jack cheese is excellent for your dental health. However, this is because it contains high quantities of phosphate and calcium. As a result, it naturally strengthens teeth and bones and helps to balance the pH in your mouth, which means less damaging acid, more cleansing saliva, and fewer cavities.

Improves Brain Health

Monterey Jack cheese is rich in cholesterol. There is a direct link between cholesterol and brain health. Research shows that cholesterol is required for synapse formation and maturation and plays a crucial role in the control of signal transduction through its function as a component of the cell membrane. Thus, lowering cholesterol levels than required levels may affect brain function.

The HealthifyMe Note

Monterey Cheese is called the superhero cheese due to its immense health benefits. Like all other cheese forms, it is healthy for bones due to the high calcium content. In addition, Monterey cheese is also beneficial for your skin, blood pressure, weight management etc. It is also heart-friendly, and an adequate consumption keeps cardiac issues at bay.  

Potential Side Effects

Hypernatremia

Too much sodium in the blood is called hypernatremia. Studies suggest that this syndrome can occur in intellectually and physically disabled older persons. Unfortunately, this happens when one does not eat or drink enough or is unwell with a high fever, vomiting, or infection that causes extreme dehydration. Other causes include excessive sweating or diuretic drugs that dehydrate the body. Nausea, vomiting, weakness, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, confusion, and kidney impairment are all signs of hypernatremia.

Allergies

Though it is infrequent, Monterey Jack can cause allergic reactions. It generally occurs from a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. A study found that it causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and severe gastrointestinal distress.

Kidney Disorders

Monterey Jack contains high amounts of sodium. Studies suggest that it is harmful to people with kidney diseases. When kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should, they must work harder to excrete sodium. As a result, your condition can worsen. Medical professionals advise avoiding cheese in such cases.

Hypertension

Several studies widely recognised and supported the relationship between hypertension and dietary sodium intake. Research suggests that High blood pressure can promote atherosclerosis (hardening and thickening of the arteries), which can result in a heart attack, stroke, or other issues. Blood vessels can weaken and expand as a result of high blood pressure.

Dehydration

Not drinking enough water is the most significant cause of dehydration. Still, high-sodium foods like Monterey Jack Cheese can also cause similar problems. Also, it has a higher salt content than other foods. Studies show that symptoms such as headaches and decreased urine are signs of dehydration, so ensure you’re drinking enough water before and after sodium-rich meals to avoid drying out.

Weight Gain

Cheese contains a lot of fat. It is the most calorically dense macronutrient and has the most calories per gram. Suppose your overall calorie consumption exceeds your daily requirements. In that case, any meal consumed in excess, mainly those heavy in fat like cheese, might induce weight gain. A study shows that you should observe the quantity of dietary fat and the quality of dietary fats.

Ways to Include Monterey Jack Cheese in Your Diet

Monterey Jack cheese is soft, melts readily, and has a mild, buttery flavour.It is ideal for snacking, slicing, or melting Mexican foods because of its mild to mellow flavour.Monterey Jack cheese, when eaten fresh, can be substituted for Parmesan on spaghetti.It’s a famous cheese to eat on its own or with crackers as a snack. It tastes outstanding in meals like soups and sauces.Mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, and other recipes may contain Jack cheese.This cheese can be served toasted on wheat bread with cucumber and tomato slices.

Healthy Recipes

Cheese Stuffed Bread 

Ingredients

Unsliced round loaf sourdough multigrain bread: 1 loafMonterey Jack cheese (low fat variety): 1 pound Melted low sodium butter: ½ cup Chopped green onions: ½ cup Poppy seeds: 2 to 3 tsp

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To within ½ inch of the bottom of the loaf, cut bread into 1-inch slices widthwise. Cut in the other way again. Cut cheese slices into 1/4-inch thick slices and then into tiny bits. Place cheese in bread cuts.Combine butter, green onions, and poppy seeds in a small dish; sprinkle over bread. Wrap bread loaf with the foil and lay it on a baking pan.Bake for 15 minutes. Unwrap; bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Farmer’s Casserole

Ingredients

Frozen shredded sweet potatoes: 3 cups Shredded low fat Monterey Jack cheese: ¾ cup Fully cooked shredded chicken: 1 cup Chopped green onions: ¼ cup Large eggs: 4Evaporated milk: 1 can (12 ounces) Baby Spinach – 1 cupPepper: ¼ tspSalt: ⅛ tsp

Instructions

Place the sweet potatoes in an 8-inch baking dish. Top with cheese, chicken, baby spinach and onions. Whisk together the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt; pour over everything. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, covered.Remove 30 minutes before baking from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Bake for 55-60 minutes, uncovered until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, then serve hot.

Storage and Food Safety

Monterey Jack cheese is perishable, and you should store it in the fridge. It will stay for one month in the refrigerator and up to four months in the freezer after purchase. Because the moisture content of the cheese affects its storage life, the softer the cheese, the shorter the period it will keep fresh. Semi-firm cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

The Conclusion

Monterey Jack is a semi-firm, creamy, mild-flavoured white cheese from cow’s milk. It has its origin in California, and has dominated the whole world. It is ideal for snacking, slicing, melting, and toasting on food. In addition, it is an excellent source of calcium, fat, cholesterol, and protein. Protein is essential, and this cheese can help you pursue a low-carb or keto diet. It also contains fair amounts of vitamins A and B12, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin.

Monterey Jack is good for overall health, such as bone, brain, and dental health. It also is suitable for carb counters.. However, overconsumption can cause adverse effects such as kidney disorders, risk of chronic heart diseases, hypertension, weight gain, dehydration, and constipation. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is Monterey Jack a healthy cheese?

A. Monterey Jack is better than high fat cream cheese, as it contains essential nutrients such as calcium, protein, fats, cholesterol, Vitamins A and B12, and minerals such as sodium, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. It contains a high concentration of healthy fats that promote cell integrity and essential amino acids our bodies require to build new proteins. Monterey Jack is a milder, softer cheese that melts well and goes well on sandwiches, but low fat varieties are more preferred..

Q. What is Monterey Jack cheese good for?

A. Monterey Jack cheese is a good source of calcium, fat, and protein. It’s also high in vitamins A and B12, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. As a result, it is suitable for overall health, such as bone health, brain health, and dental health. It is suitable for carb counters.

Q. Which is healthier, Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese?

A. The nutritional values of Monterey Jack and Cheddar are nearly identical. However, Cheddar contains more fat and sodium than Monterey Jack. Monterey Jack may be the way to go if you watch your salt and fat intake. Cheddar has the same amount of calcium as Monterey Jack and roughly the same amount of protein.

Q. Is Monterey Jack similar to mozzarella?

A. Mozzarella is a semi-soft, fresh curd cheese with a springy texture. In contrast, Monterey Jack is a semi-hard, semi-firm, non-stringy texture. Monterey Jack is milder than mozzarella but slightly more flavorful. Monterey Jack has 106 calories per ounce compared to 85 for mozzarella. It also has slightly more fat and calcium. However, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and most vitamins and minerals are nearly identical in the two kinds of cheese.

Q. How many calories are in a 1/4 cup of Monterey Jack Cheese?

A. As per the data, ¼ cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese contains 105 calories. The following is the calorie breakdown: 73% fat, 1% carbohydrates, and 26% protein.

Q. What are the side effects of eating too much cheese?

A. The various side effects include:

Weight Gain HypertensionRisk of Heart DiseasesConstipationKidney disordersDehydration

Q. Can you eat Monterey Jack cheese?

A. Yes, you can eat Monterey Jack Cheese, also known as Jack, a white, semi-hard cheese made in California from cow’s milk. It is a good source of calcium, fat, and protein. It’s also high in vitamins A and B12, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. It is ideal for snacking, slicing, melting, and toasting on food.

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