These Are the 10 Healthiest Cheeses, According to Registered Dietitians

Platter of cheese

Many of the ultimate comfort foods are oozing with cheese. Mac and cheese, lasagna, enchiladas, stuffed shells … just thinking about the bubbling cheese with the perfect amount of pull is drool-inducing. But are dairy-laden foods like these healthy, and is there such a thing as healthy cheese?

According to registered dietitians, cheese can be healthy, but not all cheese is created equal and it's important to know what the healthiest cheeses out there are. “It depends on the individual and the source of the cheese,” says registered dietitian Sarah Neumann, RD. She says that in general, cheese can be a good source of nutrients including protein, fat, calcium, potassium, vitamin K and phosphorus. “Consuming cheese can be a quick and convenient way to add calcium to the diet,” Neumann says. But she also says that for some people, cheese can be inflammatory, manifesting as an allergy or intolerance, so these individuals will want to keep their intake to a minimum. (In which case there are plenty of alt-cheeses out there for you!)

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Even though cheese contains many beneficial nutrients, registered dietitian Elise Harlow, RD, says that some cheeses are high in sodium and saturated fat, which aren’t good for heart health. She says that according to scientific research, cheese that isn’t organic tends to be higher in saturated fats, which is why she recommends buying organic cheese, when possible. “This likely has to do with the difference between what cows are fed in conventional versus organic farming,” she says.

Harlow also says that scientific studies have shown that there is no significant health difference in diets that do or do not include cheese.

Feeling good about not having to cut cheese out of your life to live your best, healthiest life? We don't blame you. Now comes the question of what the healthiest cheeses out there are. Keep reading to see how RDs rank them.

The 10 Healthiest Cheeses, According to RDs:

1. Mozzarella

If you’re a cheese lover but also want to be mindful of your calorie and fat intake, Harlow says mozzarella is a good option to go for. “It’s slightly lower in both fat and calories than other cheeses,” she says. Neumann adds that mozzarella cheese tends to be lower in sodium too.

2. Manchego

Manchego is a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk and Neumann says that it’s super low lactose, making it a good pick for someone with lactose sensitivity. “ Sliced manchego cheese pairs well with prosciutto and fresh fruit like pears, olives, figs and walnuts,” she says.

3. Goat cheese

Both RDs say that goat cheese may be a good option for people who don’t tolerate cow milk cheese well. “This is because the casein protein in goat cheese doesn't cause inflammatory effects as associated with other kinds of dairy,” Neumann says. Goat cheese is also high in selenium, a nutrient that helps protect the body against inflammation.

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4. Parmesan

Parmesan cheese is higher in protein than other cheeses,” Harlow says as to what makes it a top pick. Parmesan cheese has double the amount of protein as goat cheese does, for example. Harlow also says that this is another low-lactose cheese, making it another good pick for someone with sensitivity.

5. Swiss

“Swiss cheese contains various compounds that help lower blood pressure,” Neumann says. One, in particular, is vitamin B-12; Swiss cheese has more of this nutrient than any other cheese. Other nutrients in Swiss cheese that make it cardiovascular win are calcium, zinc and vitamin D.

6. Cheddar

A lot of cheddar cheese at the grocery store is heavily processed, so when buying it, remember Harlow’s initial advice about opting for organic so your cheddar cheese will be lower in sodium. “Real cheddar cheese is off-white or mild orange in color when spices are added,” Neumann says. When you do go for quality cheddar cheese, she says you’ll be getting a good amount of vitamin K as a benefit, a nutrient that’s important for bone health, digestion and the heart. Pro tip: Go for full-fat cheddar cheese, which is higher in vitamin K than reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

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7. Pecorino Romano

An Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk, Neumann says that Pecorino Romano is rich in CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid), which is linked to lowering inflammation and supporting heart health.

8. Parmigiano Reggiano

As you probably can tell by its name, Parmigiano Reggiano is another Italian cheese, but unlike Pecorino Romano, it’s made from raw cow’s milk, not sheep’s milk. “Raw milk comes from cows that eat grass which makes it more nutrient-dense with higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins, which includes vitamins A, D, E and K,” Neumann says.

9. Feta cheese

Feta cheese is lower in calories than most other cheeses, so Harlow says this is a good option for those who have the health goal of weight loss in mind. Even though it’s lower in calories, it’s still satiating so it will still hit the spot. “Feta is delicious crumbled on top of salads, on pasta or paired with sweet elements like in a watermelon salad,” Neumann adds.

10. Cottage cheese

Harlow says that cottage cheese is higher in protein than most other cheeses, with 8 grams of the nutrient per serving. Cottage cheese can be added to a smoothie, topped with fruit and granola or even used as a sour cream substitute in savory dishes.

This top 10 list shows cheese can have a place in a healthy diet. “For people who like cheese, including it in your meals can increase the satisfaction of the meal which is a huge part that is often overlooked when people are trying to eat healthy,” Harlow says. “Sometimes when people are trying to improve their nutrition, they will eat so healthy that they are not truly enjoying the food they are eating. This can result in somebody getting to the point of ‘giving up’ on their diet and they may experience binge eating.” With this in mind, enjoy your cheese, and dietitian’s orders!

Next up: What Foods Actually Make You Gain Weight? RDs Say to Watch Out For This One In Particular


  • Elise Harlow, RD, registered dietitian and founder of The Flourished Table

  • Sarah Neumann, RD, registered dietitian specializing in gut health and founder of Neumann Wellness