The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said “you don’t have to cut cheese out of your diet”, but it’s better eaten “sparingly”. Plus, certain cheeses contain varying amounts of saturated fat. Would you know the best and worst cheeses to eat if you had high cholesterol? Cheeses that contain the least amount of saturated fat (per 100g) include:
- Quark (0.1g)
- Reduced-fat cottage cheese (1g)
- Cottage cheese (2g)
- Ricotta (5g)
Some of the worst offending cheeses when it comes to saturated fat include:
- Mascarpone (29g)
- Stilton (23g)
- Cheddar, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester and other hard cheeses (22g)
- Parmesan (19g)
Brie, paneer, and soft goat’s cheese all contain 18g of saturated fat per 100g.
Then there’s Edam, which contains 16g of saturated fat while cheese strings, camembert, feta, and mozzarella all contain 14g of saturated fat per 100g.
Cheese can also be high in salt, which raises your blood pressure, further increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
“There can be more salt in a portion of cheddar than in a packet of crisps,” warned the BHF.
The BHF added: “‘Reduced fat’ isn’t necessarily ‘low fat’, it just means 25 per cent less fat than the original.
“Check the label to see whether the fat content is high (more than 17.5g/100g), medium (3.1–17.5g/100g) or low (3g or less/100g).
How to enjoy less fatty cheeses
Cottage cheese, one of the lowest fat cheeses you can eat, can be eaten by itself, with fruit or vegetables, or as a jacket potato filling.
Ricotta is also another healthier cheese option that can replace mozzarella.
This lower-fat cheese is ideal for pizza, warm pasta dishes, or eaten on its own.
How does eating saturated fat lead to high cholesterol?
Heart UK – the cholesterol charity – pointed out that research has shown that saturated fat interferes with the receptors on the liver cells.
The liver cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that pick up excess cholesterol when it floats by in the bloodstream.
The receptor takes the cholesterol out of the bloodstream and transfers it into the liver where it is broken down and later excreted from the body.
If there’s too much saturated fat floating around, then the LDL receptors stop working so well.
Damaged LDL receptors can’t pick up cholesterol anymore, hence why cholesterol levels increase.
This becomes dangerous, as cholesterol embeds on artery walls, and over time, more and more deposits clog the arteries.
Once hardened, the cholesterol deposits are known as plaques, and if they break off and block the supply of blood to the brain, a stroke occurs.
If the cholesterol continues to clog the arteries, the heart might need to work harder to push the blood through the fat to reach important organs.
This would increase blood pressure levels, which is one of the major causes of deaths around the world.