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Cheese and Dairy-The Oldest, Most Versatile Foods

Updated on December 18, 2012
Frances Bleuet Clinical Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss
Frances Bleuet Clinical Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss

Written by Angela LaMor RMA NCPT and Frances Bleuet owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss

Cheese can be served as the main course in dishes such as chicken parmesan or stuffed shells, as a side dish such macaroni and cheese or potatoes au gratin, as a lunch food such as a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheeseburger, as a snack such as cheese and crackers, as a salad such as a chef salad or even as a desert such as cheesecake.


Cheesecake-Cheesecake dates back to around the year 1440

Two Classic Styles of Cheesecake

Lindy’s (Jewish) made from cream cheese, and

Italian a lighter variety made from ricotta or cottage cheese


Cheese-one of the oldest dairy products and like butter, buttermilk and yogurt it was originally made to reduce waste by using every part of the milk (curds, whey, liquid) and extending shelf life.

Here’s some examples:

Ricotta cheese-originally made from the left over whey from the production of cheeses such as mozzarella and provolone

Butter-originally churned from left over milk to preserve its quality

Buttermilk-originally made from the liquid leftover after butter was churned

Cottage cheese made from curds and whey

Evaporated milk-made to extend shelf life of milk, 60% of the water is removed before canning

Sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, cream cheese and a variety of cheeses-made from cultured milk, which product is produced depends on which culture is used


Cheddar cheese-dates back to the 16th century from Cheddar, England

Monterey Jack, Colby and brick are all types of cheddar. Most cheddar cheses are named for the area that they come from such as New York, Vermont and Monterey Jack from Monterey, California. Brick cheese was named for the bricks that were originally used to weigh it down and press out the whey-it’s from Wisconsin.

Cheshire (crumbly cheese used in welsh rarebit) also from England-Cheshire county of course!

Mozzarella-originally from Southern Italy and made from water-buffalo milk


Many people experience symptoms shortly after consuming dairy products. Allergies are often wrongly blamed. Two other common negative reactions are histamine poisoning specifically from swiss cheese and Lactose intolerance.

Histamine poisoning occurs in some people who are sensitive and occurs every time they consume swiss cheese (easily mistaken as an allergy). The symptoms-bright red rash, sweating, flushing, nausea and hives-begin shortly after consuming the cheese and disappear in a few hours.

Lactose Intolerance

Dairy is no fun for people who are lactose intolerant

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) which is caused by an inadequate production of, or a defect in, the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down lactose. Many people lose their ability to digest lactose as they age but this disorder can affect young children too

Lactose intolerance symptoms begin 30 minutes-2 hrs after eating or drinking milk or milk products. Common symptoms are diarrhea, bloating, gas, pain, foamy stools, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps.

The good bacteria in yogurt breaks down lactose making it acceptable for those on a lactose-free diet.

In time some people become tolerant to lactose and still others don’t experience symptoms unless they consume milk with other foods


Yogurt-originally made form curds from fermented milk around the year 2000 B.C.

First promoted as a “health food” in the 1940’s.

Yogurt is made by adding good bacteria to milk. This bacterium (Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus or bulgaricus) helps breakdown sugar and protein making them easier to digest-especially important for those who are lactose intolerant

Once in the digestive tract this good bacteria keeps yeast that’s naturally present in our bodies from forming large colonies and helps make some vitamins in our intestines (some B’s and vitamin K)

Yogurt is a complete protein food that contains beneficial bacteria, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, D and B complex vitamins.

Parmesan cheese-dehydrated parmesan cheese is one of the highest protein foods available. Parmesan cheese contains a cancer fighting substance and has recently been used in an “anti-cancer” diet.


Milk and milk products are the best foods sources of calcium. Calcium not only soothes nerves, protects our bones and teeth but it is used as a natural pain reliever. It is known to take the edge off pain.



Milk is used to coat the stomach from too much acid, is sometimes used as first aid for accidental poisoning, goes great with chocolate cake and contains the amino acid tryptophan which helps you fall asleep.

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