Nutrients in Cheese

nutrients in Cheese quesadilla

Cheese is produced throughout the world; it is an ancient food with origins that predate recorded history. It is a dairy product made from pressed milk curds. Different varieties are made from unripened (fresh) cheese or ripened (aged) cheese.

Cheese is a delicious and nutritious food that is very versatile. You can add it to other dishes or eat it by itself. It’s convenient and portable. There are more than 300 varieties of cheese—including American, Cheddar, Mozzarella and Colby—many of which are available in various flavors, forms (chunks, slices, cubes, shredded, grated, crumbled, sticks, spreads) and packages to meet consumers' needs.

Health Benefits of Cheese

Cheese contains a host of nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. Calcium is one of the nutrients most likely to be lacking in the American diet. According to government statistics, nine out of 10 women and six out of 10 men fall short of calcium recommendations. The high-quality protein in cheese provides the body with essential building blocks for strong muscles. For a complete listing of the nutrients in cheese, see the table below.

If you are lactose intolerant, many cheeses, particularly aged cheeses such as Cheddar and Swiss, contain little or no lactose and are often well tolerated.

For the past 30 years or so, saturated fat—found in meats, eggs, cheese, butter, whole milk, lard and some oils—was considered a primary cause of heart disease. New research, however, is showing that saturated fat has a minimal impact on heart disease risk, which is changing the "saturated fat is bad" paradigm and allowing people to enjoy more cheese and other favorite foods with little concern. To reduce calories, you can grate or sprinkle harder cheeses over your dishes or use small amounts of aromatic and sharp cheeses for their delicious cheese flavor. Many reduced-fat varieties of cheeses are also available.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that individuals ages 9 and older consume at least 3 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day; children aged 4-8 years need 2-1/2 cups per day. One serving of cheese is one and one-half ounces of hard cheese, one-third cup for grated cheese and two ounces for processed cheese.

Nutrient American 
(1 oz)
Cheddar
(1 oz)
Mozzarella
(1 oz)
Parmesan
(1 Tbsp)
Swiss
(1 oz)
Kilocalories 106 114 72 22 108
Protein (g) 6 7 7 2 8
Carbohydrate (g) 0 0 1 0 2
Sugars (g) 0 0 0 0 0
Fiber (g) 0 0 0 0 0
Total Fat (g) 8.9 9.4 4.5 1.4 7.9
Calories from Fat 80 85 41 13 71
Saturated Fat (g) 5.6 6 2.9 0.9 5
Cholesterol 27 30 18 4 26
Cholesterol (%DV) 9% 10% 6% 1% 9%
Sodium (mg) 184 176 175 76 54
Sodium (%DV) 8% 7% 7% 3% 2%
Potassium (mg) 46 28 24 6 22
Potassium (%DV) 1% 1% 1% 0% 1%
Vitamin A (IU) 272 284 136 43 235
Vitamin A (%DV) 5% 6% 3% 1% 5%
Vitamin B12 (ug) 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.1 1
Vitamin B12 (DV) 3% 3% 5% 2% 17%
Vitamin C (mg) 0 0 0 0 0
Vitamin C (%DV) 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Vitamin D (IU) 0 7 3 1 6
Vitamin D (DV) 0% 2% 1% 1% 2%
Calcium (mg) 175 204 222 55 224
Calcium (%DV) 18% 20% 22% 6% 22%
Folate (ug) 2 5 3 0 2
Folate (%DV) 1% 1% 1% 0% 1%
Iron (mg) 0.1 0.2 0.1 0 0.1
Iron (%DV) 1% 1% 1% 0% 1%
Magnesium (mg) 6 8 7 2 11
Magnesium (% DV) 2% 2% 2% 1% 3%
Phosphorus (mg) 126 145 131 36 161
Phosphorus (%DV) 13% 15% 13% 4% 16%
Thiamin (mg) 0.01 0.01 0.01 0 0.02
Thiamin (%DV) 1% 1% 1% 0% 1%
Riboflavin (mg) 0.1 0.11 0.1 0.02 0.08
Riboflavin (%DV) 6% 6% 6% 1% 5%
Niacin (mg) 0 0 0 0 0
Niacin (%DV) 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

Sources:
German JB et al. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009;48(4):191-203.

Lemarche B. J Am Coll Nutr 2008;27(6):741S-6S.

Source of nutrient values for cheese:
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/

Vitamin D fortified dairy products can be an excellent source of vitamin D, however, levels vary considerably. Read the food label or contact manufacturer for specific levels.

The sugars listed on the Nutrition Facts label include naturally occurring sugars (like those in fruit and milk) as well as those added to a food or drink.

% DV = Daily Value, based on energy and nutrient recommendations for a general 2000-calorie diet.

Units: g=grams
  mg=milligrams
  ug=micrograms
  IU=International Units