Cheese Industry Trying to Make Tasty, Healthy Cheese

Dairy scientists are trying to reduce fat and sodium content in cheese, but it just makes it less tasty

Sure, a recent study said cheese may actually help lower diabetes risk, but it looks like some people didn't get the memo. The New York Times reports that dairy scientists and research institutes are looking for ways to cut fat and sodium out of cheese. The problem? "When you take a lot of the fat out, essentially cheese will turn into an eraser,” Gregory D. Miller, president of the Dairy Research Institute, told the Times.

Apparently, salt and fat help control taste and texture of cheese; salt works as a preservative and flavor developer, while fat affects moisture level and texture.

Swiss and mozzarella are fairly easy to lower salt content, but processed cheeses especially are problematic. For products like American cheese, "natural cheeses are heated and mixed with other ingredients, use sodium-containing emulsifiers for blending and to control melting. A typical slice of American cheese can contain more than twice the sodium that the same amount of a natural Cheddar has," the Times reports.

As for something like blue cheese, fat helps develop flavor, which means a low-fat blue cheese most likely won't be in our future.

Luckily for cheese-lovers looking to reduce salt intake, researchers have found that it's easy to make cheese with 10 percent less sodium that tastes relatively decent.  “If I gave you that cheese, and gave you a full-sodium one, you’d know the difference," Mark Johnson of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research said. "But if I didn’t ever give you the higher one, and gave you the lower one, you’d go, ‘Mmmmm, that’s not bad.'" We'll just stick with full-fat, though, thanks.