Can people with diabetes eat cheese?

When you suffer from this disease, it is common to wonder about the convenience of eating some foods. One of the issues that is frequently raised is whether you can eat cheese when you have diabetes.

As in many nutrition-related topics, the key is knowing how to consume the most appropriate products and in the right amounts. Too much of either is harmful, whether you have diabetes or not.

Cheeses in diabetic disease

Diabetes is a disease that affects large numbers of people around the world. It is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels due to a partial or total lack of insulin or an insufficient response to it. Over time, vascular damage may appear.

Good lifestyle habits are very important in treating people with diabetes. In addition, they prevent or delay the appearance of possible complications. Excess weight and high blood pressure are two of the conditions that it is desirable to avoid.

Milk and its derivatives, such as cheese or yogurt, are nutritious foods and everyone can eat them if they wish. In the case of diabetes, it is important to take into account some of the aspects related to its composition.

Diabetes is a disease with high prevalence and the nutritional issue is key in its management.

Nutritional characteristics of cheese

Dairy products and their derivatives have a place in a healthy diet. They present an adequate nutritional profile in which some of its components should be highlighted:

  • Fats: cheese is one of the foods that can present high amounts of fat compared to others. But the total final value changes a lot depending on the variety. It ranges from less than 10% in fresh ones to more than 30% in some ripened ones. Of the total amount of lipids, the highest percentage belongs to saturated fats.
  • Proteins: together with fat, it is one of the macronutrients present in cheese, which on the other hand, provides almost no carbohydrates. In this case, they are proteins of high biological value, as they provide all the amino acids that the body needs. The presence of this component can have a satiating effect.
  • Salt: one of the problems that most cheeses present is their high sodium content. This is due to the use of salt as an ingredient in the preparation and the ripening process itself. The average salt level ranges from 0.7 to 6%.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Although they can also vary depending on the type, cheese is generally considered a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and fat-soluble vitamins, such as A.

Read more: Are saturated fats bad for your health?

Can cheese affect blood sugar levels?

It is sometimes believed that people with diabetes cannot eat cheese because the presence of lactose (the main sugar in milk) could increase blood glucose. The glycemic index (GI) is an indicator that is used to measure how a food is able to increase these levels.

As indicated by the Diabetes UK Foundation, milk and other dairy products have a low glycemic index due to the protective effect of milk protein It slows down the emptying of the stomach.

Also, some scientific studies published in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show the existence of a relationship between dairy intake and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Although they are not conclusive analyzes, they do offer data to take into account.

People with diabetes can consume these recommended cheeses

People with diabetes can consume cheese in adequate portions and choose those that have lower levels of salt and saturated fat, as well as a lower energy intake. A recommended portion is 30 grams for hard cheeses and between 50 and 70 grams for the freshest.

Cottage

This is a type of fresh cheese with characteristics similar to ricotta and cottage cheese. Low in fat, high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It has a mild flavor, as it is not subjected to a curing process like mature cheeses.

In recent years it has become fashionable in many countries as a healthy product thanks to these characteristics. It can be eaten by the spoonful, as it is a good alternative to yogurt, or spread on a few slices of bread. It combines well with fruits, compotes, cereals, nuts or seeds.

Discover: How to make cheese cottage home

Quark

This is a fresh smoothie cheese with a creamy and smooth texture and a somewhat sour taste. It has a caloric value and a low percentage of fat. While they exist some versions made with whole milk that may have a higher content.

Ricotta

This typical variety of Italian cuisine is made from whey and as the cottage or the quark it is a fresh cheese. For this reason, it has low energy, sodium and fat values.

Its texture is grainy and it has a fresh flavor with a sweet touch. It goes well with fruits or in savory recipes and can be served with a little honey, dark chocolate or cinnamon.

Neufchâtel

People with diabetes can consume this cheese with a Normandy designation of origin. It is made from cow's milk, has a soft paste and moldy skin.

It has moderate sodium and fat values. It also has a taste similar to cream cheese, but with lower amounts of saturated fat.

Emmental

Hard and compact Swiss cheese that it is one of the few of these characteristics with a low salt content. On the other hand, the amount of fat can be considered medium, since it is between 25 and 40% of the final composition.

It is a good option to accompany pasta, as it melts well when cut into thin strips. It can also be added to a vegetable dish or salad. Its flavor is smooth, sweet and reminiscent of dried fruits.

Cheeses can be incorporated into the diabetic diet, provided that the appropriate ones are chosen and in limited portions.

Varieties to avoid

It is advisable to give up some types of cheese, such as melt mixes or special salad mixes. These can bring a large number of ingredients (starches, flux salts, vegetable fats and colorings).

Further, all those cheeses that are richer in sodium and saturated fat are best eaten exceptionally. Although they are not prohibited in their entirety and much less if they are accompanied by abundant fiber and vegetables.

A proper diet for diabetes allows you to consume cheese in moderation

With this disease it is essential to follow a balanced diet with vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil and lean protein as the protagonists. Cheese and other dairy products also have their place if consumed in just the right amounts.

Among the main choice cheeses should be the least caloric and those with reduced levels of salt and saturated fat. These can be eaten in portions of about 30 grams a day served with light foods that provide fiber.

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