What is Feta Cheese? Nutrition, Health Benefits

Feta cheese is a soft, white-colored cheese generally made from the milk of sheep and goats. One of the oldest cheeses in the world, it’s known for its rich aroma and slightly sour taste.

While feta cheese supplies you with an excellent source of nutrients like calcium and protein, it also contains high amounts of sodium and saturated fat.

Feta is lower in fat than many different kinds of cheese, however, and is considered a reasonable option to eat in moderation. Because it’s not traditionally made from cow’s milk, but with milk from sheep and goats, it’s also more comfortable to digest.

Nutrition Information

A one-ounce (28-gram) serving of feta cheese has:

  • Calories: 75
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Sodium: 316 milligrams 

Feta cheese is a good source of:

  • Calcium
  • Riboflavin
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus

Feta cheese also has a number of B vitamins, which support a healthy nervous system, healthy skin, and energy production.

Potential Health Benefits of Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a good source of important vitamins and minerals. However, the high sodium content in feta cheese may induce complications with certain medical conditions.

Research has found that when eaten in moderation, feta has the following potential health advantages:

Bone Health

Feta has more calcium than many other kinds of cheese. Calcium allows you to maintain healthy teeth and bones.

Feta cheese also has high levels of phosphorus. Combining phosphorus and calcium has been linked to improved bone density and osteoporosis prevention.

Weight Management

Feta has a fatty acid known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Experimental studies have shown that CLA can assist reduce body fat. These studies also show that CLA can help enhance your body composition in the long term. 

However, these studies are not consistent and additional testing is required. Also, some studies have shown that CLA can have negative effects on sugar metabolism and cholesterol levels.

Gut Health

Fermented foods like feta cheese contain probiotics. These strains of good bacteria promote a healthy gut and support the immune system process.

Researchers are studying if probiotics can assist with symptoms of diarrhea and constipation associated with both irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Lowers Risk of Diabetes

Researchers have found that protein and calcium (both of which are plentiful in feta) can help control your body’s blood sugar levels, decreasing your risk of developing diabetes and helping to manage existing blood sugar-related conditions.

Potential Risks of Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a low-calorie source of numerous vitamins and minerals, but it also has a high sodium content. It has saturated fats as well, which should be limited to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie count.

Consider the following before having feta cheese in your diet:

Blood Pressure

Excessive sodium in your diet has been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, which is linked to chronic problems like kidne y disease, stroke, and heart disease.

Kidney Function

Although feta cheese has healthy amounts of calcium, the phosphorus in feta may weaken bones in people with kidney disease.

Pregnancy Concerns

Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like feta can include Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause mild flu-like symptoms in adults. The bacterium may be quite dangerous to unborn babies, however, and pregnant women are advised not to consume unpasteurized cheeses.

Medication Interactions

Feta also has tyramine, a naturally occurring substance found in aged and fermented foods. Tyramine has been associated with blood-pressure spikes, heart palpitations, and severe headaches in people carrying monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) drugs. For instance, those prescribed for depression or Parkinson’s disease.

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