Is Mozzarella Cheese Healthy? Here's What a Dietitian Says
Americans love to eat cheese, so much so that the average person consumed about 40.2 pounds of cheese in 2020. According to the survey by YouGov America of 8,815 Americans earlier this year, the top three favorite kinds of cheese are American (also known as processed cheese), cheddar, and mozzarella.
So, what makes mozzarella one of the most well-loved cheeses in the country, with an average of 12.29 pounds consumed per person last year? Is mozzarella cheese healthy? Keep reading to find out the nutrition, health benefits and ways to enjoy mozzarella cheese.
What is Mozzarella Cheese?
Mozzarella is a type of cheese that is made from buffalo or cow's milk. It is a soft, white cheese that can get more firm with age. Many people love this Italian-originated cheese for its smooth and creamy texture with a mild flavor and a hint of acidity. It is stringy but becomes smooth when melted, making it perfect for a variety of dishes from salad to pasta.
You can find different forms of mozzarella cheese in grocery and specialty food stores, including buffalo mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, mozzarella balls and mozzarella sticks.
Is Mozzarella Cheese Healthy?
Cheese is a nutrient-dense food that offers many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. One study also found that it can help improve cholesterol levels, thanks to nutrients like calcium and vitamin K. While many people think that cheese is high in fat, sodium and calories, you may change your mind after learning more about the nutritional breakdown of mozzarella cheese.
Nutrition of Mozzarella Cheese
According to the USDA, every ounce (28 grams) of mozzarella cheese provides:
- 72 calories
- 7g protein
- 4.5g fat
- 3g saturated fat
- 1g carbohydrates
- 0g fiber
- 175mg sodium (8% Daily Value)
- 222mg calcium (22% Daily Value)
- 131mg phosphorous (19% Daily Value)
- 0.8mg zinc (10% Daily Value)
One ounce of mozzarella cheese provides close to one-third of your daily requirement of dairy needed, according to USDA MyPlate.
Health Benefits of Mozzarella Cheese
Good source of protein
Similar to other types of cheese, every ounce of mozzarella provides about seven grams of protein, similar to the amount of protein present in one ounce of cooked chicken. Protein is an essential nutrient that is part of every cell in the body. It fuels your body with energy and is needed for cell growth and repair. Protein also plays a crucial role in producing hormones and enzymes and making antibodies to support the immune system to fight off illnesses and infections.
Lower sodium than other cheese
If you are trying to reduce your intake of sodium, mozzarella might be the way to go. Compared to the same serving size of feta and parmesan, mozzarella has nearly 50 percent less sodium, with 175 milligrams of sodium per serving. This is roughly eight percent of the daily recommended intake of 2,300 milligrams or less.
Sodium is vital for muscles and nerves to function properly, and is an electrolyte important for keeping fluids in balance. Because sodium is present in many foods, choosing foods with lower amounts of sodium could prevent over consuming it. Too much sodium can lead to water retention and high blood pressure, heart and kidney diseases in the long run.
Lower in saturated fat
Compared to many other types of cheese, mozzarella has a higher moisture content and lower fat variety. It also has lower amounts of saturated fat for the same serving size. Eating too much of saturated fat might increase the risk of heart disease.
Current dietary guidelines recommend consuming no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat. In other words, if you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, the amount of saturated fat in one serving of mozzarella contributes to slightly more than 1 percent of your total calories.
Contains nutrients for healthy bones and teeth
Cheese is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and zinc, which play an essential role in bone health. One study noted that cheese might also offer benefits to dental health as well. Typically, the lower the pH in the oral cavity, the higher the chance of getting dental caries. This study suggested that cheese may have anti-cavity properties that raise the pH level of the dental plaque. These compounds might also stick to the enamel to protect the teeth from cavities.
Promotes gut health
Mozzarella cheese is a source of probiotics, including Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus fermentum. Probiotics are important for gut health and can help support the immune system. Specifically, Lactobacillus fermentum may be linked to reduced risk of respiratory infections and improved blood cholesterol.
How to Enjoy Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella cheese is just as versatile as it is nutritious. It is widely used in Italian and American cuisines for how easily it melts and its delicious flavor. The white soft cheese pairs with everything from sweet to savory, making it well-loved by chefs and home cooks alike. Pair it with tomatoes, pesto, fruits and more for a nutritious meal or snack. Mozzarella is also a perfect slicing cheese for pizzas, Caprese salad and flatbreads.
Melt it over toast or your favorite protein, add it to breakfast with our Sun-Dried Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Cheese quiche, or use it to top roasted vegetables. Our favorite is the Roasted Bell Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and Basil. The possibilities are endless!
You can also simply eat them as is, in the form of mozzarella sticks. Some people also enjoy mozzarella sticks as comfort food by rolling them with panko and an egg wash and frying them with oil. While mozzarella cheese is relatively low in fat, the calories and total fat add up once fried with cooking oil. For a healthier option, you can try our Air-Fry Mozzarella Sticks over the traditional frying method. Despite the cooking method you choose for the fried mozzarella sticks, enjoy them in moderation.
Mozzarella is lower in fat and sodium than many other kinds of cheeses. Like other cheese varieties, mozzarella is a good source of protein, calcium and phosphorus, which are essential nutrients for optimal health. You can enjoy mozzarella cheese in various dishes, from sweet to savory and from breakfast to dinner. Be sure to some of our best recipes that start with mozzarella cheese for inspiration.