Say Cheese!

Fat.

Good fat.

Bad fat.

Non fat.

We’ve heard these terms time and time again. Many of us know to avoid bad fats, go for good fats and realize that non-fat usually means the product is full of an alternative unhealthy ingredient. By and large, most people think as long as they are avoiding fried foods, certain cuts of meat and full fat dairy milk – they are avoiding the bad type of fat.

So then, how does cheese come into play with good vs bad fat – specifically pre-packaged vegan cheese? Well, I recently realized that some of my favorite cheeses were fat bombs. And not the good fat, but bombs of the bad fat. Let me explain …

The healthier fats we should consume in moderation are called unsaturated fats which include polyunsaturated fats (think omega-3 fatty acids) and monounsaturated fats (think avocados, almonds and pumpkin seeds e.g. good sources of Vitamin E).

The more problematic fats are saturated fat and trans fat – the stuff that leads to clogged arteries and high cholesterol. While many companies are on the “no trans fat” band wagon, saturated fats are still present in many pre-packed foods, especially in vegan cheeses.

Many of the well known vegan cheese companies use coconut oil as a prominent ingredient. Over all, coconuts are a wonderful food. But when it comes to actual coconut oil, we should be mindful of our consumption, as it is high in saturated fats. Cue my tears.

According to The American Heart Association: They “… recommend aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat. For example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, no more than 120 of them should come from saturated fat. That’s about 13 grams of saturated fat per day.”

Here are the saturated fat amounts in some of the more popular vegan cheeses:

Personally, we’d use about 2 to 3 cups about 3 times a week of the Violife brand in our household. However, at 72 grams of saturated fat per day, just for one or two meals … we cut that out – STAT.

So what’s a vegan cheese lover to do? Remember, just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. These cheeses are also highly processed. A better alternative is to skip the cheese altogether – go for a homemade sauce instead, or season the other ingredients of your meal really well. However, if you really need a cheese-like flavor for a certain dish, check out this cheese recipe using carrots and potatoes as the primary ingredients.

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