Originally from Greece, feta cheese is a soft, creamy cheese traditionally made of sheep’s milk. It is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, which limits the name “feta” within the European Union to brined cheese made exclusively of sheep’s and/or goat’s milk.

Authentic feta is made from whole sheep’s milk only, from sheep that graze on local grass. It has a tangy flavor, although if combined with goat milk the taste will be milder.

This delicious Mediterranean cheese can be a healthy addition to your diet. Outlined below are four major health benefits of feta cheese. 

1. Easier to digest than regular cheese

Traditionally produced feta cheese is made with sheep’s milk, or with a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Both sheep’s and goat’s milk are less inflammatory than cow’s milk.

Sheep’s milk is widely considered to be the healthiest of the dairy milks. It is rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are easily metabolized by the body and converted into energy. The fat globules in sheep’s milk are smaller than either cow’s or goat’s milk, which makes it easier to digest. Finally, sheep’s milk is higher in protein than cow’s milk and it contains higher levels of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, B-vitamins, vitamin D, and beneficial essential amino acids.

Goat’s milk also has smaller fat globules, which helps with digestion. It too has high levels of healthy fats, MCFAs, and it contains less lactose. All of this makes it well tolerated by people that find cow’s milk difficult to digest.

2. Helps to prevent osteoporosis 

Feta cheese is an excellent source of calcium. For example, a 1-ounce serving of feta cheese supplies 140 milligrams of calcium toward your daily requirement. However, you need more than just calcium to build strong bones, other co-factors are necessary and they work synergistically together. These co-factors include vitamin D, protein and phosphorus, all of which can be found in good amounts in feta cheese.

3. It’s good for your gut

Consuming feta cheese on a regular basis can help to increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Feta cheese contains  Lactobacillus plantarum [1], which is known to improve digestive health and is often recommended to sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome. Studies now also show that the beneficial strains of Lactobacillus plantarum in feta cheese survive well in the gut. [2]

4. Helps to protect against cancer

Feta cheese can help protect your body from cancer in the following ways

  • It is an excellent source of calcium and it contains good amounts of vitamin D. Research points out that calcium and vitamin D combined can help to protect against several types of cancers. [3]
  • The protein alpha-lactalbumin present in feta cheese has recently been found to have anti-tumor properties.[4]
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a fatty acid that is present in high amounts in sheep’s milk and it has been shown to be anticarcinogenic in several animal models. [5] Greek feta cheese contains up to 1.9% CLA and interestingly, Greece has the lowest prevalence of breast cancer and the highest cheese consumption among EU countries.[6]

Recipes using feta cheese

Below are some delicious recipes using feta cheese and they are a great way to start incorporating this healthy cheese into your diet. Please keep in mind that feta cheese is high in sodium and often small amounts only are added to a salad or meal. Some people may need to watch their sodium intake.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad — The Pioneer Woman
This traditional Greek salad is bursting with antioxidants, we recommend using a gluten-free orzo pasta for a delicious, easy to digest meal.

Watermelon and Feta Salad — Jamie Oliver
A light summer salad sprinkled with plenty of fresh mint and drizzled in extra virgin olive oil.

Greek Tomato Salad — Gluten-free Living
This classic Greek salad is the perfect way to enjoy feta cheese.

Greek Quinoa Salad — Two Peas and their Pod
A Greek-style quinoa salad that makes a nourishing meal. The feta cheese adds plenty of flavor to this dish.

Gluten-free Sun Dried Tomato and Feta Crackers — Health Starts in the Kitchen
These gluten-free crackers make a delicious snack and we love the classic combination of sun dried tomato with feta cheese.

We hope that you enjoy the recipes. 🙂

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26506345/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26506345/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19667166

[4] https://www.wellnessresources.com/studies/hamlet-kills-bladder-cancer-cells-in-humans

[5] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/088915759290037K

[6] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814602001590

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