The word, “Cheese” can make you smile, but if you look at its composition, you may get discouraged. Don’t quit it, limit it, writes Dr. Raghavendra Rao.

Most of them have 34.4 percent fat out of which a significant amount is saturated kind. For example, one ounce of American Cheddar carries 8.9 gm. of fat out of which, 5.6 gm. are saturated. It has 28 mg. of cholesterol. Of course, there are cheese with less fat and cholesterol. Consuming small amount of cheese may be beneficial for health.

Heart Health. The Journal of American Heart Association published an article in May 2016 on dairy consumption and risk of stroke. Eating a small amount of cheese (one ounce) lowered the occurrence of stroke by 3 percent. It reduced cardiovascular risk as well.

Cheese is a good source of calcium. Getting daily 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium from the diet is desirable than swallowing a calcium pill because natural foods have other ingredients beneficial to health. An analysis in 2014 from the Diabetic Heart Study showed that taking calcium supplements reduced the mortality rates in women. This didn’t have any effect on men. Data from a study on 75,000 female nurses in the Osteoporosis International revealed that calcium consumption reduced the risk of heart attacks.

Tooth Health. Cheese has a protective effect against cavities. In a small study, volunteers rinsed their mouth with a sugary solution and then ate a small amount of cheese. Cheese raised the PH in the mouth, made it alkaline and prevented cavity formation.

Many other benefits are claimed for cheese, such as protection against liver cancer, boosting immunity and helping in weight control. There are no large scale, double blind studies supporting these claims. Cheese has a large quantity of fat so weight control by eating cheese is not practical.

How much cheese is okay to consume? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans institution recommend three servings of dairy products a day, out of which 1 to 1.5 oz. could be cheese. More than that is not advisable because cheese has too many calories, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

There are more than 300 varieties of cheese with different flavors and textures. Enjoy them in moderation.