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10 Best Cheeses for Diabetes Management
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10 Best Cheeses for Diabetes Management

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Written by Brenda Peralta, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 16, 2023
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7 min

Cheese is a great way to boost your protein if you have diabetes. However, not all kinds of cheese are good to have. Here, we’ll go over the 10 best options if you want to add some of this creamy treat.

Best cheese for diabetes
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Can people with diabetes eat cheese? For people with diabetes, controlling the foods they eat, especially those high in carbs, plays a crucial role in handling their symptoms. 

However, cheese is not such a food as it’s mostly protein and fat. So, does this mean you can eat any type of cheese if you have diabetes?

Some cheeses are high in calories and fat, and even if they might not directly affect your glucose levels, such foods lead to weight gain, making insulin not function properly. 

In this article, our experts analyze 10 different kinds of cheese that are ideal to have if you have diabetes. 

10 Delicious and Healthy Cheese Choices for People with Diabetes

Eating cheese can be a great way to control blood sugar levels whenever you eat starchy food, as protein has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Also, since protein takes longer to digest, it helps release sugar molecules slower into the bloodstream, allowing you to have more stable glucose levels. 

For example, eating wheat bread toast with some cheese will have a lesser impact on your blood sugar than eating it on its own. 

Still, you must be careful about which type of cheese you include to have a healthy diet. Here are the top 10 best kinds of cheeses for people with diabetes. 

#1 Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is one of the best options you can include if you have diabetes. It’s a versatile option that pairs nicely with sweet and savory foods. 

You get the following nutritional information in 1oz of cottage cheese (1%): 

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 0.8g
  • Proteins: 3.5g
  • Fats: 0.2g
  • Saturated fat: 0.7g

Cottage cheese is an option with an excellent protein content with very few calories and fats. Now, keep in mind that the information is set for low-fat cheese. To avoid adding any more fats, choose a low or non-fat option. 

Pairing it with some fruit like kiwi can prevent glucose levels from spiking too much.

On the other hand, if you prefer a savory snack or meal, mix some cottage cheese with tomatoes, olive oil, and basil to have a Caprese-style option. 

#2 Goat cheese (Chevre)

Another option to include in your meal plan is goat cheese. It has a creamy texture and a more intense flavor compared to cottage cheese. 

In 1oz of soft-style goat cheese, you will find the following nutritional information: 

  • Calories: 75
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Proteins: 5.2g
  • Fats: 6.0g
  • Saturated fat: 4.1g

While goat cheese is a great source of protein, it is also higher in saturated fats. So, people with diabetes can include it but avoid other high sources of saturated fats such as butter, high-fat meat cuts, and other highly processed cheeses. 

To avoid using too much of it, sprinkle it on top of your favorite salad instead of making it the star of the dish. 

#3 Feta

Feta cheese is another viable option.

One ounce of feta cheese provides you with the following nutritional information: 

  • Calories: 75
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Proteins: 4.0g
  • Fats: 6.1g
  • Saturated fat: 3.8g

Keep in mind that feta cheese is also high in saturated fat compared to other types of cheese. For that reason, be careful not to overdo the amount you eat. 

To enjoy feta cheese, sprinkle it on top of scrambled eggs or mix it with avocados to make a creamy dip. 

#4 Cheddar cheese

Natural cheddar cheese is an option if you want a more mature cheese to snack on. 

One ounce of cheddar cheese has the following nutritional information: 

  • Calories: 114
  • Carbs: 0.9g
  • Proteins: 6.5g
  • Fats: 6.1g
  • Saturated fat: 5.4g

Cheddar cheese is an option high in calories like any other processed cheese, meaning you need to eat it in moderation to avoid having a highly caloric diet. 

To avoid eating cheese in large quantities, you can create cheese kebabs. Cut the cheddar cheese into cubes and skewer them with ham and tomato cherries. 

The more vegetables you add, the more fiber you’ll get, making you feel more satiated. 

#5 Mozzarella

Next on our list is mozzarella cheese. This creamy option is an excellent food to include if you want to replace chicken or meat and have a more plant-based or vegetarian approach. 

One ounce of mozzarella cheese offers the following nutritional information: 

  • Calories: 72
  • Carbs: 0.8g
  • Proteins: 6.7g
  • Fats: 4.5g
  • Saturated fat: 2.9g

When buying mozzarella cheese, opt for low-fat or part-skim milk. This can significantly reduce the fat and calorie content. 

You can include it as the main protein source in the meal. For example, adding cheese can help prevent blood sugar from spiking if you have a small portion of spaghetti

Remember to include pasta as a side dish to avoid eating too many carbs in one meal. 

#6 Emmental

Emmental is another option that won’t jeopardize your blood sugar levels. 

One ounce of French Emmental has the following nutritional information: 

  • Calories: 117
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Proteins: 8.4g
  • Fats: 8.4g
  • Saturated fat: 5.0g

Due to its high protein content, it is a great option to include if you want to make a cheese sandwich (with whole-grain toast) that melts easily. 

With that said, due to its high-fat content, it is a cheese very high in calories, so you need to consume it in moderation. 

As a recommendation, whenever you make a grilled cheese sandwich, have only one option high in fat and the rest low in fat; that way, you create a balance. 

#7 Cream cheese

Who doesn’t love a toast with some of this creamy cheese in the morning? People with diabetes don’t need to avoid it, but they must make some adjustments. The first is switching from regular bread to whole grain. 

Additionally, make sure to consume it in moderation due to its high-fat content, and always include a protein option like some eggs or salmon slices. 

One ounce of cream cheese has the following nutritional information: 

  • Calories: 99
  • Carbs: 1.6g
  • Proteins: 1.7g
  • Fats: 9.8g
  • Saturated fat: 5.7g

For those who want to reduce the fat and calories, you can always opt for a low-fat option. 

However, make sure to check the nutritional label since, in some cases, to have the same consistency as the regular option, fillers are added, which increases the carb content. 

#8 Ricotta cheese

If you are looking for a low-calorie cheese option, ricotta cheese is an excellent choice. 

One ounce of ricotta cheese has the following nutritional information:

  • Calories: 39
  • Carbs: 1.5g
  • Proteins: 3.2g
  • Fats: 2.2g
  • Saturated fat: 1.4g

One of the benefits of ricotta cheese is that you can include it in savory and sweet dishes. 

For example, to create creamy and fluffy high-protein pancakes, you can mix almond flour, ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Place them in a pan and cook them on both sides until golden brown. 

#9 Provolone cheese

Melted provolone cheese makes an excellent dip if you want to bring something different to a party. 

One ounce of provolone cheese has the following nutritional information:

  • Calories: 99
  • Carbs: 0.6g
  • Proteins: 7.3g
  • Fats: 7.5g
  • Saturated fat: 4.9g

You can melt some provolone cheese with caramelized onions to have a high-protein dip people will definitely enjoy.  It is also keto-friendly.

Have it with some low-carb chips or whole-grain crackers, and you have the perfect snack. 

#10 Swiss cheese

Finally, one of the best cheeses to include for people with diabetes is Swiss cheese. 

One ounce of Swiss cheese has the following nutritional information:

  • Calories: 111
  • Carbs: 0.4g
  • Proteins: 7.8g
  • Fats: 8.8g
  • Saturated fat: 5.2g

A perfect on-the-go snack is making some ham and Swiss cheese rolls. Since they are high in protein, these rolls will make you feel fuller for longer.

Is Cheese Bad for Those With Diabetes?

Cheese is not bad for people with diabetes. In fact, it can help regulate blood sugar levels thanks to its high protein and fat content. Since proteins and fats take longer to digest, they allow sugar molecules to be released slower, creating more stable sugar levels.

However, depending on the type of cheese, higher-fat options like Swiss and provolone need to be consumed in moderation since a high-calorie intake might lead to weight gain.

Does Cheese Raise Blood Sugar?

No, cheese does not have a significant impact on blood sugar levels. In fact, it can help reduce blood glucose levels. 

Research shows that milk protein might slightly increase insulin levels which helps reduce blood sugar levels in healthy individuals and people with diabetes. 

So, the next time you have a high-carb food, pair it with some cheese to help reduce the glucose response. 

FAQs

Can people with diabetes eat cheese and crackers?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat cheese and crackers. However, make sure to choose whole-grain crackers with at least 3g of protein per serving to avoid spiking your sugar levels too much. 

Can a person with diabetes eat cream cheese?

Yes, a person with diabetes can eat cream cheese. Nonetheless, due to its high fat and low protein content, ensure you pair it with some additional protein on the side, such as scrambled eggs, ham, or salmon.

Is there sugar in cheese?

There might be traces of sugar in cheese since it comes from dairy. However, the amount is so small it shouldn’t affect someone with diabetes.

Can people with diabetes eat parmesan?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat parmesan cheese as part of a healthy and balanced diet. However, it is best to consume it in moderation.

A Word From a Dietitian

Cheese is an excellent snack option to include for people with diabetes.

However, there might be options that are better than the others.

For example, if you want to replace cheese spread, you can make your version which would be lower in calories and fat but higher in protein.

Place cottage cheese into a blender or food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water. Blend until it has a smooth and creamy consistency. You can add some herbs or spices to add some extra flavor.

Now, you have a cheese spread that is high in protein, lower in calories, and less processed than a traditional cheese spread.

Conclusion

People with diabetes need to be careful about which foods they incorporate to avoid creating sugar spikes. 

Cheese is an excellent source of protein and fat that can help regulate blood sugar levels.

So, when you add starchy food, such as whole grain crackers, to avoid a massive sugar response, add some cheese for a more stable glucose level. 

Opt for cheeses higher in protein than fat to have the perfect protein to replace animal products such as meat, fish, or chicken.

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HR_author_photo_Brenda
Written by
Brenda Peralta, RD, is a registered dietitian advisor for Health Reporter. She has several certifications in sports nutrition, health coaching, and women’s health hormones. She presents herself as a fertility advisor and gut specialist.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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