Feta is the most famous Greek cheese in the United States and is common in many dishes. Feta is often found in salads, omelets, pizza, burgers, quiches, and much more. It is traditionally made in Greece from a combination of goat’s and sheep’s milk. An authentic Greek feta will be made from no less than 70% sheep’s milk. However, American feta is made from sheep’s, goat’s or cow’s milk depending on who is manufacturing it. It’s texture varies, but generally, it is a crumbly white cheese that is salty and somewhat tangy. It is not nearly as sharp as a feta you would find in Greece. Feta’s saltiness comes from the brine where the cheese sits to cure.
Is Feta Cheese Good For You?
Let’s take a look at the health benefits of feta cheese (or lack thereof) to determine if it is good for you.
One cup of crumbled feta has 396 calories. This makes it a relatively high-calorie food. Looking at the calories alone, feta should be limited if you are on a calorie restricted diet. The benefit of feta is that a little bit provides a lot of flavor so limiting the portion size can be easy for some.
The total fat of feta is a whopping 32 grams per one cup crumbled. Additionally, the saturated fat is 22 grams. By eating one cup of feta you will receive about 50 percent of your recommended fat intake and over 100 percent of your recommended saturated fat.
Feta traditionally sits in a brine made of salt and water. This contributes to its high sodium content. One cup of crumbled feta has 1,674 milligrams of sodium. As a reference, the American Heart Association only recommends 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day and the Centers for Disease Control recommends a maximum of 2,300 milligrams. Feta cheese should be avoided or limited if you are watching your sodium intake.
A major feta cheese health benefit is its protein content. Feta is made from milk so it does have a great amount of protein per serving. A cup crumbled has approximately 21 grams of protein. Just like many other cheese products, feta is a good source of protein.
Another feta cheese health benefit is its calcium content. One cup crumbled feta has about 75 percent of your daily calcium requirement. Additionally, it is also high in B vitamins (B-12 and B-6).
Feta only contains 6 grams of carbs per one cup crumbled. This makes it a low carb food, which can be beneficial for people on a low carb diet.
Feta cheese does have some positive nutritional benefits like high protein, high calcium, and low carbs. However, to answer “Is Feta Cheese Good For You?” we would say no. It’s high in calories, high in fat content, and has very high sodium. The nutritional benefits are largely overshadowed by the bad qualities of feta. Although we used one cup for the nutritional measurements above, a lot less can go a long way because it packs so much flavor. As with many foods, eating feta in small serving sizes and in moderation is suitable for many people and won’t add 10 pounds to your waistline.