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Dairy lightens up.

Dairy Lightens Up

The dairy case. Home to the second largest source of artery-clogging saturated fat in the average American's diet. Only red meat supplies more.

But the dairy case is changing. Next to the two-percent (not really lowfat) milk is its one-percent (really lowfat) cousin. Some yogurts have gone all the way to non-fat. And--here's the big news--cheeses and sour cream are finally slimming down.

Mind you, the new lower-fat cheeses still carry their dose of saturated fat. With today's technology, you just can't make a non-fat cheese that's soft enough to chew. And part-skim is still a long way from all-skim.

But manufacturers have managed to remove more than a third of the fat without ruining the taste or texture. The trick is figuring out which products are truly light.

HARD CHEESES First there was part-skim mozarrella. Now cheddars, Swisses, and colbys have gotten into the act.

Oh sure, you always could buy lower-fat cheddar-or Swiss-flavored pasteurized process cheese products. But these American-cheese-type individually wrapped slices are high in sodium, and make decidedly inelegant hors d'oeuvres.

Low-cholesterol (imitation) cheeses also have been around a while. By replacing the butterfat with vegetable oil--usually partially hydrogenated soybean--the manufacturers eliminate the cholesterol and nearly all of the saturated fat. But you're still getting lots of unsaturated fat and calories. (Dorman's Lo-Chol is one of the best of the imitation cheeses, because it's made with vegetable oil and is slightly lower in fat and sodium.)

The newcomers in the dairy case are natural cheeses that contain about one-third less fat and one-quarter fewer calories than their regular versions. Kraft Light Natural Cheddar, Colby, or Swiss, and Weight Watchers Cheddar have 8 grams of fat (instead of 12 or 13) and 120 or 135 calories (instead of 165) per 1 1/2-ounce serving. (Packages give a one-ounce serving size, but most people eat 1 1/2 ounces at a sitting.)

As far as sodium goes, you've got to read the fine print. Weight Watchers, which has cut its sodium to 105 milligrams per 1 1/2 ounces, rightfully carries a "low sodium" tag on the label. Kraft's Light Natural Swiss, which has even less sodium (83 mg. per 1 1/2 ounces), has no "low sodium" claim.

And keep in mind that low-sodium doesn't automatically mean low fat.

Also watch out for part-skim cheeses that are only slightly less fatty than regular. Dorman's Slim Jack has about 11 grams of fat per 1 1/2 ounces. Dorman's regular Monterey Jack has just 12.

And don't forget string cheese. It's the excess part-skim mozzarella that doesn't fit into the molds. Manufacturers form it into finger-like cylinders that kids (and adults) eat as snacks.


The "low-fat" claims on some part-skim ricotta cheese labels have fooled many a shopper over the years. Part-skim ricotta is not low-fat; a typical two-ounce serving (1/4 cup) still contains 5 or 6 grams of fat.

Now Polly-O and Sorrento are selling "lite" ricotta cheeses that go part-skim one better. Each has only 4 grams of fat per serving, and Sorrento leaves out added salt entirely (which is fine, since ricotta is usually mixed into dishes--like manicotti--that have no shortage of salt or flavor).

Both companies cut the fat by adding whey, a by-product of the cheese-making process. An added bonus: whey boosts the calcium and dilutes the protein slightly.

For people wondering what to do with their naked bagels, Kraft makes Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese. Added skim milk cuts the fat in half (to 5 grams per ounce).

That's still not as good as farmer cheese, which can be used like cream cheese and has only 3 grams of fat per ounce. But light cream cheese tastes more like the real thing. Just don't confuse it with "soft" cream cheese, which also comes in a tub (and which is as fatty as regular cream cheese).

SOUR CREAM Some people will never get used to yogurt on a baked potato. Now they don't have to.

Land O'Lakes makes a Light Sour Cream Dairy Blend with only 1 gram of fat per tablespoon, and Breakstone's Light Choice has just 2 grams.

Since a tablespoon of regular sour cream has 3 grams of fat, that's no great savings. But many folks (you know who you are) have a heavy hand when topping a potato, making a dip, or zipping up a bowl of bananas or strawberries.

Breakstone cuts the fat by adding skim milk and agar (a gel made from seaweed). Land O'Lakes adds those ingredients plus water, modified food starch, and protein concentrate.

East-coasters have two other options: King Non-Butterfat Sour Cream Alternative and its stiffer cousin, King Sour Non-Butterfat Sour Dressing. Both have 1 1/2 grams of fat per tablespoon, but in the Dressing, the fat's all coconut oil. The company says it's working on a new recipe using hydrogenated corn oil.

If you don't eat much, any of these choices is fine. If you do, stick with Land O'Lakes--or give non-fat yogurt another chance, this time with chives.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:low-fat, low-calorie, low-sodium dairy products
Author:Liebman, Bonnie
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Mar 1, 1989
Previous Article:Reform food labels now!
Next Article:Pass the pesticides.

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