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How Cheese Affects Your Blood Sugar Levels

January 25, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Reviewed by
Katie K.
RD

From blue to brie, who doesn’t love this dairy product? Whether you prefer soft dessert cheeses with a glass of wine, cream cheeses on your bagel, or hard cheeses on your deli platter, there’s likely at least one type of cheese you’re fond of.  In fact, according to several surveys and statistics, Americans are eating more cheese than ever—and the amount of consumption is only going up! 

As whole foods, several types of cheese include the same nutrients and health benefits that other dairy products can provide. After all, it’s the coagulation of milk that produces most of the cheeses we love so much. They’re a source of calcium, proteins, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and many other essential nutrients. All the calcium from the dairy in cheese can impact everything from your bones and teeth health to blood pressure, cholesterol, and the healing of wounds. Some types of cheese can help put you at a lower risk of issues like heart disease, while others can help with bone health. 

Of course, like all dairy foods, not all cheese is created equal. Some types of cheese can have too much dairy fat, some can increase your cholesterol levels, and some may not be as good for heart health. It depends on various factors, including how your body handles its dairy intake, the fat content of the cheese in question, your dietary tolerances, and so on. While we can’t cover everything about every type of cheese, here’s a little more about cheese and your health. 

Cheese and Your Health

A closeup of hands holding silverware over a plate of salad and cheese

What is cheese, exactly? It’s a dairy product made out of the milk of animals like cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo. According to some estimates, there are over 1,400 varieties of cheese. The varieties depend on the type of milk (whole milk, skim, what sort of animal it comes from, and so on), degree of ripening, the process of milk coagulation, and so on. 

During the coagulation or clotting of milk, certain bacteria ferment the lactose, which is the milk sugar, producing lactic acid. Lactic acid then coagulates the milk proteins, called caseins, by trapping the fat. You can think of the process as a type of curdling of the milk that’s done on purpose. 

The degradation of proteins in cheese-making starts when certain enzymes (from unadulterated milk, bacterial contamination, or are produced in laboratories) are introduced in milk. The fermentation of lactose into lactic acid is done with the help of starter bacteria. These enzymes produce casein after a starter culture is added to the milk to lower the pH.

The next step is the aging process. The more time a cheese is left to age, the less lactose it will contain—the lactose converts into lactic acid. This aging process increases the levels of probiotics in the cheese, which makes it one of the best foods for the immune system.

Can Eating Cheese be Healthy?

Brie cheese on a wooden board with rosemary fruits and bread

If you can tolerate dairy products, they can be some of the best sources of calcium, proteins, and other nutrients. Milk also contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. These amino acids can combine and form protein chains. They can be divided into two main groups: casein, which coagulates and forms cheese, and whey protein.

The most common type of fat found in cheese is saturated fat. So even with all the benefits, remember that some cheeses are a high-fat, high cholesterol option and may not be the healthiest addition to your diet. Cheese contains ten times more fat than milk, with 65 percent of saturated fats. However, the linoleic acid present in milk is a trans-fatty acid that has some health benefits. It has anticarcinogenic properties, promotes muscle growth, and may also have some anti-diabetic properties.

Another component of milk is lactose, the milk sugar. The lactic acid bacteria break lactose down into glucose and galactose to use as an energy source. 

Some types of cheese, like mozzarella, cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese, also contain probiotics. These can support gut health and improve digestion in some people.

More About Cheese and Healthy Eating

A womans hand holding brie over a white plate

In moderation, and if your body responds well to it, cheese can be a great option with various health benefits. It may improve bone health, prevent blood clotting, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cheese also raises the pH levels in dental plaque, which can help prevent cavities.

And some types of cheese may even help with your weight loss efforts! Yes, you can add certain low-fat cheeses to your diet to help manage your weight and provide you with all those great nutrients we mentioned earlier. 

Popular low-fat cheeses include cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan, feta, and goat cheese. Certain types of cheese also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help improve your cardiovascular system and nervous system, which manages brain function.

A Note of Caution 

So, it’s safe to say cheese isn’t bad for everyone, and introducing dairy products into your diet can benefit some people. However, before you load up on cheese, remember that, as with anything, there are some drawbacks too. Cheese can also be a high-calorie food, and some cheeses contain high amounts of sodium and saturated fats. So the type of cheese (and the amount) you should consume as part of a healthy diet is something to consider. 

Why is any of this important? Well, for one thing, a diet that’s rich in sodium and saturated fats can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Some suggestions recommend limiting your intake of saturated fats to less than 10 percent of your total daily calorie count. For example, if your diet consists of 2,000 calories per day, you should consume less than 20 grams of saturated fats. 

Of course, this will differ from person to person, so ask a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to help you find the right amount for your specific needs. Another downside of cheese consumption is that many people are intolerant or allergic to lactose.

Cheese and Blood Sugar 

As we mentioned before, cheese proteins are divided into two categories: caseins and whey proteins. Whey protein in isolation can stimulate insulin secretion, which prevents the rise of blood glucose levels. However, because cheese also contains high levels of saturated fatty acid, it can impact your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of associated diseases. If consumed in excess, saturated fats can also affect insulin sensitivity, leading to an increased risk of diabetes

Like all foods, cheese has a glycemic index based on how quickly the body can digest carbs, which impacts blood sugar. Remember, since most cheeses are lower in carbohydrate content, they’re likely also lower in glycemic index. Here too, how it affects your system will depend on your body. It’s a good idea to track and monitor your daily dairy intake with the help of a tool like a continuous glucose monitor and guidance from a registered dietitian.

Our Favorite Types of Cheese and Their Health Benefits

A woman's hands cutting hard cheese

Now that you know a good amount about cheese and its health benefits, we’re sure you’re looking forward to adding some of this delicious food to your shopping cart. Remember that moderation is key to a healthy diet, but don’t make drastic changes without consulting a healthcare professional. 

There are so many types of cheese to pick from; how do you decide what to get? Some of the most popular varieties include mozzarella, feta, cottage cheese, goat cheese, ricotta, Swiss cheese, cheddar, gouda, parmesan, blue cheese, and brie. Here’s a list of some of our favorites and a little more about their nutritional content. 

Mozzarella Cheese

Nutritional content of mozzarella cheese


Americans love mozzarella—no, really! It’s America’s most popular cheese and one of our favorites too. The soft cheese is low-calorie, has a low amount of saturated fats, and is made from buffalo or cow’s milk. It also contains essential probiotics that help strengthen immunity and prevent infections. 

Feta Cheese

Nutritional content of feta cheese

Feta is a type of cheese made from goat’s or sheep’s milk. It contains little to no casein, making it an excellent choice for lactose-intolerant people. It’s also rich in phosphorus and calcium, low in calories, and high in sodium. 

Cottage Cheese

nutritional content of cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a great low-fat source of protein, perfect for managing your weight. It’s also rich in B vitamins, which keep your cells and organs healthy. 

Cheddar Cheese

nutritional content of cheddar cheese


Cheddar cheese is a type of naturally aged cheese, perfect for those sensitive to lactose, as it contains little to none of it. It’s rich in calcium, fat, calories, and sodium, so even though it’s delicious, you may want to consume this in moderation. However, cheddar is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, which may help prevent heart disease. 

Ricotta Cheese

nutritional content of ricotta cheese


Ricotta cheese is a low-calorie cheese that contains a significant amount of whey protein, which helps strengthen muscles. Whey protein also reduces cholesterol levels and can have some cancer-preventing properties. 

Swiss Cheese

nutritional content of swiss cheese


Swiss cheese is one of the most popular types of cheese. Its signature holes are created by gas bubbles during the fermentation process. The low-calorie food also contains a low amount of sodium and fat. It also contains lactic acid bacteria, which help prevent diseases, infection, and inflammation.

Goat Cheese

nutritional content of goat cheese


Goat cheese is made with—no surprises here—goat milk! We think it’s delicious, but it can be an acquired taste for some, as it has a pretty specific smell and taste. This soft cheese is relatively high in fat and rich in vitamin A. And it contains beneficial bacteria that protect the gut and improve digestion. 

Gouda Cheese

nutritional content of gouda cheese

Gouda is a cheese made with unpasteurized milk with a specific sweet and nutty taste. It is an excellent source of probiotics, which promote healthy digestion and strong immunity.

Parmesan Cheese

nutritional content of parmesan cheese

Parmesan is another type of aged cheese, usually consumed in small amounts. It contains proteins and calcium and may also be a good option if you’re lactose-intolerant. 

Quark Cheese

nutritional content of quark cheese

Quark cheese isn’t well-known, but we’re big fans, so you may want to consider adding it to your grocery list. It looks like cottage cheese, but it has a creamier texture. It’s full of probiotics and high in proteins, but it’s also high in carbs. 

As you can see, cheese isn’t all bad after all! In fact, it even has some health benefits, and with all the proteins, calcium, sodium, fats, and probiotics, it can be an excellent addition to your diet. Of course, it can impact your blood glucose and cholesterol levels, so it’s best to consume it in moderation. 

Learn How to Add Cheese to You Diet with NutriSense

Are you curious about the foods you can add to your diet while optimizing your health? Wondering what types of cheese work best for your body and how they impact your blood sugar levels? The health benefits of different foods will depend on your body’s individual responses to them. Using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is an excellent way to track and monitor how your body responds to them. 

With programs like the CGM Program from NutriSense, you can experiment with the help of a CGM sensor and advice from a registered dietitian. Using the data from the CGM, your dietitian can help you gain a better understanding of your personal calorie and macronutrient needs.

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How Cheese Affects Your Blood Sugar Levels
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20 Mental Health and Wellness Podcasts Recommended by Dietitians
20 Mental Health and Wellness Podcasts Recommended by Dietitians

This week, we’ve compiled some of our favorite podcasts that go beyond nutrition. Here are 20 wellness-focused podcasts to add to your queue.

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Are BCAAs Worth It? The Bottom Line on Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Are BCAAs Worth It? The Bottom Line on Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Are BCAAs worth it? This post digs into 30+ years of research to answer this question. The answer may surprise you.

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8
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Science Backed Tips for Menopause-Related Weight Gain
Science Backed Tips for Menopause-Related Weight Gain

Menopause can be a difficult journey, so we've compiled some of the most effective, science backed tips to help you with menopause-related weight gain.

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8
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Help Dad Stay Healthy this Father's Day
Help Dad Stay Healthy this Father's Day

Father’s Day is around the corner, and whether you’re celebrating your dad, a father figure, or another cherished loved one, helping them take care of their health can be the ultimate gift.

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10
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11 Great Low-Carb Snacks to Add to Your Diet [+ 5 Recipes our Dietitians Love]
11 Great Low-Carb Snacks to Add to Your Diet [+ 5 Recipes our Dietitians Love]

Here's a helpful list of some of our favorite low-carb snacks that can help you keep your diet varied and full of healthy nutrients.

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7
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Low Glycemic Index Recipe Ideas Everyone Will Enjoy
Low Glycemic Index Recipe Ideas Everyone Will Enjoy

Whether you're looking for low GI summer snacks or healthy sweet treats, this post has got you covered. Here are tasty low glycemic index recipes everyone will enjoy!

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Do Grapes Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
Do Grapes Raise Blood Sugar Levels?

Wondering if grapes are safe for people with diabetes to include in their diet? Read on to find out.

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7
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The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?

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20 Questions to Ask Your CGM Provider (with Kara Collier)
20 Questions to Ask Your CGM Provider (with Kara Collier)

We sat down with Kara Collier, our co-founder and VP of Health here at NutriSense, to take a closer look at how CGMs work and what you need to know about these devices before using one.

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Are Carbs and Sugar the Same? 
Are Carbs and Sugar the Same? 

Are carbs and sugar the same? In this post, we break down the key differences between the two and share the benefits of complex carbohydrates.

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9
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Best Recovery Breakfasts to Beat Post-Workout DOMS
Best Recovery Breakfasts to Beat Post-Workout DOMS

Read on to learn more about DOMS, how long it can last, and then pick from our list of the best breakfasts to help beat that post-workout soreness, support muscle building, and encourage fat loss.

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13
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7 Plant-Derived Supplements to Help Lower Blood Sugar
7 Plant-Derived Supplements to Help Lower Blood Sugar

When it comes to lowering blood sugar levels, not all supplements are created equal. From ginseng to aloe vera, here are some of the best supplements to help avoid high blood sugar and encourage blood sugar control.

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Is Bloating After Surgery Normal?
Is Bloating After Surgery Normal?

Bloating that results from a surgery can sometimes be an unexpected part of the recovery process. Is there anything you can do to reduce bloating or prevent it from happening? And what causes this bloating anyway? Read on to find the answer to these questions and much more to help you combat your post-surgery swelling. 

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9
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Is Fiber a Carb? 
Is Fiber a Carb? 

Learn why fiber is classified as a carb and how to increase your intake of this health promoting nutrient.

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9
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Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Parkinson’s Disease 
Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Parkinson’s Disease 

Did you know Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease? Read on to learn what it's like living with PD plus discover treatment options.

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10
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An Expert Breaks Down 11 Viral Health Trends
An Expert Breaks Down 11 Viral Health Trends

From rosemary water to dry scooping, should you be trying every new trend that hits TikTok? How can you tell which ones may help and which ones to steer clear of?

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8
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Does Eating Too Much Sugar Affect Your Skin?
Does Eating Too Much Sugar Affect Your Skin?

As great as sugar tastes, including too much of it in your diet can lead to certain health problems. Read on to learn more about the role sugar plays in keeping your skin healthy.

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14 Health and Nutrition Podcasts Recommended by Dietitians
14 Health and Nutrition Podcasts Recommended by Dietitians

Read on to see which podcasts our dietitians recommend if you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and health.

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Does Nicotine Affect Blood Glucose?
Does Nicotine Affect Blood Glucose?

Nicotine is a chemical in tobacco that can affect your health in various ways. Read our article to learn how it impacts blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

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Why Everyone, Including Healthy People Should Use CGMs
Why Everyone, Including Healthy People Should Use CGMs

CGMs are now an excellent tool for anyone who wants to optimize their metabolic health. Read on to find out more about the benefits CGMs can have for healthy people!

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10
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Why Do People Need to Lose Weight Before Bariatric Surgery?
Why Do People Need to Lose Weight Before Bariatric Surgery?

Although bariatric surgery can be an effective way to lose weight and improve health for people who are obese, it’s a major decision. Find out what lifestyle changes you need to make before going under the knife.

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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Favorite Grilling Recipes
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Favorite Grilling Recipes

Excited to fire up the grill this summer? Read on to learn if grilling is healthy for you plus check out the NutriSense Nutrition Team's favorite grilling recipes for the season.

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9
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How a Healthy Gut Improves Blood Sugar
How a Healthy Gut Improves Blood Sugar

Did you know that your gut health can impact your blood glucose levels? Explore ways to improve your gut health for optimal glucose levels.

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Living With Autoimmune Conditions: Rheumatoid Arthritis
Living With Autoimmune Conditions: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that can cause swelling and joint pain. Learn more about how it develops and how other health conditions affect its onset.

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13 Best Weight Loss Apps to Consider
13 Best Weight Loss Apps to Consider

We’ve hand-picked the best weight loss apps available. Here are the thirteen best weight loss apps.

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8
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What is Red Light Therapy?
What is Red Light Therapy?

An emerging treatment, red light therapy promises to prevent and treat the signs of aging and other skin issues. Read on to find out more.

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Diets People are Most Likely to Give Up On [+Tips to Stick with Them]
Diets People are Most Likely to Give Up On [+Tips to Stick with Them]

Struggling to stick with a health-promoting diet? Here’s how to make it enjoyable so you can reap the benefits.

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Kara Collier on Optimal Health Through Blood Sugar Regulation
Kara Collier on Optimal Health Through Blood Sugar Regulation

VP of Health and co-founder of NutriSense Kara Collier discusses reaching optimal health through blood sugar regulation, what a continuous glucose monitor is, and who might benefit from using it.

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How to Turn Your Idea into a 120 Person Team with Dan Zavorotny
How to Turn Your Idea into a 120 Person Team with Dan Zavorotny

In this episode of Zero to CEO, Jason Sherman talks to Dan Zavorotny about how to turn your idea into a 120 person team in 2.5 years.

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A Breakdown of Body Mass Index (BMI)
A Breakdown of Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body mass index is a term you may have seen tossed around quite a bit in the health world. You may know that it’s a way to measure body fat, but with so many new tests for measuring overall fitness and health, is BMI still reliable?

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Glucose-Friendly Recipes to Enjoy This Memorial Day
Glucose-Friendly Recipes to Enjoy This Memorial Day

If you're watching your glucose levels, traditional BBQ staples may not be the best choice. Here are some recipes that will help you enjoy a Memorial Day meal without a blood sugar spike.

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Taking Mental Health Online: Tips & Tools for Self-Care
Taking Mental Health Online: Tips & Tools for Self-Care

Mental health has a significant impact on your overall health; here are tips, tools, and apps to improve your mental wellbeing.

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Can You Check Your Blood Sugar at Home Without a Meter
Can You Check Your Blood Sugar at Home Without a Meter

Living with diabetes can be a challenge, especially when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels regulated. Learn if you can check your blood sugar at home without a meter.

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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Sunscreen for all Skin Types
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Sunscreen for all Skin Types

With summer right around the corner, it’s time to make sure you have the tools you need to protect yourself from sunburn and sun damage. But how do you choose the right one for adequate sun protection?

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Japanese Water Therapy & Weight Loss: What’s the Deal? 
Japanese Water Therapy & Weight Loss: What’s the Deal? 

Learn how Japanese water therapy can help with weight loss, energy levels, and detoxification.