Which Cheeses Are Lowest in Cholesterol and Fat?

Best and Worst Choices Among Types of Cheese

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Who doesn’t like to sprinkle a little bit of cheese on their favorite dish? Although delicious and high in calcium, cheese can also introduce saturated fat into your diet—which can adversely affect your lipids if you consume cheese on a regular basis. And Americans do, regular cheese is the top dietary source of saturated fat, according to the National Cancer Institute.

But not all cheese is the same, and when you want to add some cheese to a dish or sandwich, you can make a choice from those that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol.

If you are looking to use cheese in your cholesterol-lowering diet, these tips will provide you with the cheeses that are highest and lowest in saturated fats, as well as general tips on how to add cheese to your healthy diet without adding extra fat and calories.

Which Cheeses Are Lowest in Fat?

The more commonly used cheeses in foods, such as mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack, blue cheese, provolone, and Swiss, all contain similar amounts of saturated fat, from 3.7 to 5.7 grams per ounce. Mozzarella and feta on the low end of the scale for saturated fat, whereas other cheeses, such cheddar, and Swiss cheese, contain slightly higher amounts of fat. You might decide to save fat and calories by making substitutions on your sandwiches.

Other types of cheeses, such as part-skim ricotta cheese and cottage cheese, have even lower amounts of saturated fat per serving. Compared to one cup of shredded cheddar cheese, which contains about 24 grams of saturated fat, one cup of cottage cheese contains 6 grams of saturated fat.

If you were to select low-fat versions of these products, the saturated fat content would be cut almost in half.

Cheese

Saturated Fat
(grams per ounce)

Cholesterol
(mg per ounce)

Cream cheese

5.7

29

Muenster cheese

5.4

27

Cheddar cheese

5.3

28

Mexican cheese (queso chihuahua)

5.3

30

Blue cheese

5.3

21

Swiss cheese

5.2

26

American cheese (processed)

5.1

28

Provolone cheese

4.8

20

Swiss cheese (processed)

4.5

24

Parmesan cheese (grated)

4.4

24

Camembert cheese

4.3

20

American cheese food (processed)

4.3

28

Feta cheese

4.2

25

American cheese spread (processed)

3.8

16

Mozzarella, whole milk

3.7

22

Neufchatel cheese

3.6

21

Mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim

3.2

18

Ricotta, whole milk

2.4

14

Ricotta, part skim milk

1.4

9

Mozzarella cheese substitute

1.1

0

Parmesan cheese topping, fat-free

0.9

6

Cottage cheese, creamed

0.5

5

Cottage cheese, low-fat, 2 percent milkfat

0.4

3

Cottage cheese, low-fat, 1 percent milkfat

0.2

1

Cottage cheese, nonfat

0.0

2

American cheese, nonfat or fat-free

0.0

7

Best and Worst Cheeses for Cholesterol

Looking at the list, there are cheeses that are lower in cholesterol even though they are average for saturated fat. For example, blue cheese and provolone are a little lower than cheddar, American cheese, and Swiss cheese in cholesterol. But the lowest choices are those made with lowfat or fat-free milk.

Low Cholesterol Cheese

  • Part skim mozzarella cheese (18 mg cholesterol per ounce)
  • Low-fat (1 percent) cottage cheese (1 mg cholesterol per ounce or 8 mg per cup)
  • Low-fat cheddar or Colby cheese (6 mg cholesterol per ounce)
  • Fat-free cream cheese (1 mg cholesterol per tablespoon)

Cheese to Limit

  • Whole milk ricotta cheese (14 mg cholesterol per ounce or 125 mg cholesterol per cup)
  • Cheese with 25 to 27 mg cholesterol per ounce, including cheddar, Swiss, feta, Muenster, and American processed cheese.

Helpful Tips for Adding Cheese to Your Low-Fat Diet

Fortunately, there are other ways you can cut saturated fat and calorie content of the cheeses that you add to your foods. Try these helpful tips if you want to add cheese to your cholesterol-lowering diet:

  • Cheese swap: Try swapping cottage cheese or ricotta for higher-fat cheese in recipes. You may discover that these work just as well.
  • Look for low-fat versions of your favorite cheeses. Check to see if a low-fat version of your favorite cheese is available. Many low-fat varieties taste just the same and have a similar consistency to their full-fat counterparts. However, you should always check the food labeling for fat content in order to make sure that you still not introducing too much fat into your diet.
  • Use a vegan cheese substitute. If you enjoy adding cheese to your dishes but are watching your fat intake, try a cheese substitute made from plant products, such as soy, so they lack the saturated fats that full-fat dairy products contain. Even though they are not dairy-based cheeses, they can still help to create a terrific dish without adding excess fat to your dish.
  • Use smaller portions. If low-fat cheeses and cheese substitutes aren’t appealing to you, there is always the option of reducing the amount of your favorite cheese added to some of the foods that you eat. For instance, instead of heaping three slices of Swiss cheese onto your sandwich, add just one slice. In the case of adding shredded cheese, use a measuring cup or spoon to add your cheese instead of your fingers and eyes. Many food manufacturers have also pre-sliced cheeses that are thinner than their regular counterparts, allowing you to enjoy a complete slice of cheese without having to cut up cheese slices to cut your fat intake.
  • Maximize flavor. Look for hard cheeses and "stinky cheeses" that are more flavorful. You can grate just a small bit of aged Parmesan or Asiago onto your pasta or a bit of flavorful blue cheese in a salad to satisfy a cheese craving.

A Word From Verywell

You don't have to give up cheese entirely on a cholesterol-lowering or low-fat diet. But you will need to choose wisely and limit your portions. You may find yourself exploring the more flavorful cheeses to enjoy as a special treat less often, while your everyday choices will be those that are lowfat versions.

Sources:

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference 28 Software v.3.7.1 2017-03-29. USDA. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index

Whitney EN, Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning; 2016.

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