• Check out the wide variety of cheese sold today. Cheese is milk in concentrated form; about 10 pounds (5 quarts) of milk are used to make every pound of Cheddar cheese. That's why cheese is a great source of milk's nutrients: protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.
  • To moderate fat and perhaps calories, cut back on saturated fat, and still get plenty of nutrients, you might look for lower-fat cheeses such as low-fat ricotta, part-skim mozzarella, string cheese, or varieties of reduced-fat cheese. Many cheeses have considerably more fat per serving than a serving of milk does. As a rule of thumb, any cheese made with fat-free milk will likely have less fat and fewer calories.
  • Low-fat cheese has 3 grams or less fat per serving; that's 1 ounce for most cheese and 4 ounces for cottage cheese.
  • Reduced-fat cheese has 25 percent less fat than the same full-fat cheese.
  • Fat-free cheese has less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving.

Cheese with less fat usually has less cholesterol, too, but check the label to be sure.

  • Consider buying shredded cheese and sharp-flavored cheese. For cheese shreds you may pay a little more per ounce for the convenience of "pre-prep." When it's grated, you may use a little less cheese than if you had used sliced or chunk cheese. That's another way to savor the flavor yet control fat. Tip: Using stronger-flavored cheese such as Parmesan, feta, or sharp Cheddar delivers more flavor with less cheese.
  • Look for reduced-sodium cheeses if you're watching your sodium intake. Traditional cheese has sodium because it's a key ingredient in cheesemaking.
  • Look for cheese fortified with vitamin D, too!

Cream, Sour Cream, Spreads

  • Buy them—go easy on how much you use. They're high in calories and fat and deliver little calcium.
  • For less fat and fewer calories, try lower-fat and nonfat varieties. Try half-and-half rather than cream; another option is fat-free half-and-half (mostly made of fat-free milk). Choose sour half-and-half or fat-free sour cream. Read the labels; the fat content varies.
  • Look for spreads—butter, margarine, and cream cheese—in the dairy case. From a fat and calorie standpoint, butter and margarine are the same, with about 35 calories and 4 grams of total fat per teaspoon. Both are primarily fat, but the source and type of fat differ. Butter contains more saturated fats than most margarines. Made from vegetable oil, margarine has no cholesterol, but may be high in trans fats.
  • For a spread, buy soft tub margarine rather than stick margarine for less trans and saturated fats. Whipped versions of butter or margarine have less fat per tablespoon, too; air adds to the volume. However, they can't be substituted for regular butter or
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