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Food of the month - Feta cheese

April 2014

Previous Health Foods of the Month...



Pickled Vegetables


Diet & Supplements Index

With spring well on its way and summer just around the corner, our thoughts turn to salads and interesting lighter meals.

Feta cheese comes into its own in warmer weather as it is lovely mixed with salads and dotted on other recipes to give more substance and flavour.

While feta cheese is traditionally Greek and has been made in the region since as far back as the 8th century BC, the word is believed to have come from the Italian word fetta which means slice.

Many people believe that feta, because it is traditionally made with sheep’s or goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk, is much better healthwise than the more traditional English cheeses. The health properties are emphasized because feta cheese is often served with salads.

In fact, feta is not really a healthier food than other cheeses. It certainly has fewer calories than Cheddar but it contains fat and can be quite high in sodium. A one ounce serving of feta cheese contains 75 calories and just over 6 grams of fat. Of these over 4 grams are saturated fat which as most of us know can raise our cholesterol levels. The same level of feta cheese contains around 316 milligrams of sodium. An ounce of cheddar cheese contains on average around 176 mg of sodium, so you can see the difference. That said, the recommended maximum levels of sodium intake per day are at around 2,300 milligrams or down to 1,500 if you are at an increased risk of stroke, kidney disease or high blood pressure; so there is clearly still room for feta cheese to be included in a diet.

Feta cheese does contain good levels of calcium plus vitamin B12 which are both of course beneficial in maintaining good health. The cheese also contains small amounts of iron, folate and vitamin D.

You can now buy reduced fat feta cheese; and importantly the good news is that feta cheese has a lovely strong distinct flavour; so you really don’t need too much of it to make any meal really special.


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