If you’re on keto, certain cheeses make for better choices – find out which ones.
Ketogenic or “keto” diets may seem like a recent trend, but they actually aren’t new at all. In the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Marcelo Campos wrote that doctors have been using the keto diet for almost 100 years! At its core, the keto diet centers on cutting carbs and adding more protein and fat to your diet – which is actually all excellent news for cheese lovers.
Keto diets are based on limiting carbs and eating whole foods rich in protein and fat like meat, avocado, eggs, and “unprocessed” cheese (more about that below). You might be surprised by how less hungry you feel on the keto diet versus similar options, like low-fat diets, because of the flexibility keto affords you. Following a keto diet often leads to weight loss, but it also provides other health benefits like lowering your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
Adding cheese to dishes makes them so much more tasty, especially when adhering to a diet that limits sugars and other indulgent foods. Shavings of Parmesan or Romano tossed onto a Caesar salad seems decadent, but when it’s replacing croutons, it’s practical. Mixing some shredded cheddar into your scrambled eggs makes them richer and creamier. Crumbling some Asiago cheese with pecans and walnuts can become a new favorite snack.
But, not all cheeses are keto-friendly. Keep in mind that cheeses with higher amounts of lactose, a type of sugar, tend to be higher in carbs — which is exactly what keto avoids.
Keto-friendly cheeses are the ones made without extra “processing,” meaning the cheese is actually cheese and not made with lots of extra preservatives, fillers, and sugars. For example, think about those American cheese slices you see in the store. Those are not particularly keto-friendly (and not high in quality either). Even though this is a generally good rule to follow, some cheeses that fit this bill are still better choices than others.
Choosing the Most Keto Friendly Cheeses
Along with protein and fat, many cheeses also contain carbs. When it comes to keto, it helps to know where a particular cheese falls on the carb vs. protein scale so your favorite snack never interferes with your health goals.
Here are a few basic rules of thumb for keto friendly cheeses:
- Aged, unheated cheeses are usually best because they contain less lactose, which is a type of sugar.
- The best varieties are high quality, grass-fed, full fat.
- Pre-shredded cheese sometimes has added starch, so it’s best to buy a block and shred it yourself.
Below are some of the top cheeses to choose when you need to add some flair and flavor to your keto diet.
Parmesan is the reason so many keto followers love a crouton-free Caesar salad. A tablespoon of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano typically contains less than a gram of carbs.
In the Middle Ages, Benedictine monks in Italy’s Parma-Reggio region had a surplus of milk. They used salt from the Salsomaggiore mines to create Parmesan in large wheels they could store for a long time. Today, Parmesan is a favorite of astronauts for the same reasons: longevity and deliciousness. In fact, as Parmesan grows older, it becomes even more savory and develops more nutritional value in the form of Vitamins A, D, and Potassium. Our own Copper Kettle Parmesan is actually aged for 16 months, which gives it a unique texture and flavor.
Try pairing your Parmesan with a glass of aged champagne for dry companion that matches this cheese’s buttery undertones.
This creamy, soft, and spreadable cheese can lead you to think you may be cheating on your diet. But thankfully it’s a great addition to a keto diet and is flexible enough to be used in desserts, side dishes and in low-carb baked goods. Pair some Mascarpone with fresh berries and you’ll have a decadent breakfast without the guilt!
With its semi-firm texture and it’s smokey undertones, Gouda is a keto-friendly cheese that is guaranteed to bring a unique and delicious flavor to any dish. Chop some up and melt for a decadent dip to pair with broccoli and cauliflower. Gouda paired with baked cauliflower is a great alternative to the comfort food standby of macaroni and cheese!
Cheddar cheese is not only widely available and incredibly popular, it’s also one of the most versatile cheeses. It can be melted to make a delicious cheese sauce for dipping, sliced to transform a beet patty into a cheeseburger, cubed for a cheese board, or grated on a salad. Cheddars can vary in flavorings and intensities, which means the right cheddar is out there no matter how you like your cheese. Combine cheddar with dried fruit for a balanced sweet and salty snack that’s perfectly keto friendly. And if you are a potato chip person, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how cheddar cheese crisps can satisfy your salty, crunchy cravings.
Swiss cheese is known as Emmental cheese in Europe because it was first created in Switzerland’s Emmental Region. This recognizable cheese offers little to no carbs and high protein. There are more than 450 varieties of Swiss cheese, but the top-produced variety is Gruyère— another keto friendly cheese. Pair Swiss varieties with dry, oaked white wines like Chardonnay or Pinot Gris to enhance that signature Swiss flavor.
Adding cheese to a keto diet will make you feel less like you are depriving yourself and more like you are making a wise and tasteful health choice and that’s something to definitely make you smile. The texture and infinite flavor possibilities with cheese make it an ideal addition to any keto-friendly diet. If you’ve reached a plateau in your keto journey, adding one or more of the above cheeses into your recipe rotation can help you stay on track and enjoy the process instead of feeling deprived.
Find a store near you that carries Cello Parmesan, Mascarpone, and many other keto friendly cheeses so you can kickstart your meal planning today!
You can also make a keto friendly cheese board by substituting crackers with cheese Whisps. Get some cheese board creation tips by downloading our eBook below.