There is nothing better than some feta cheese and olives for a light snack, the combination of flavors is unique and packed with flavor.
The creamy, sour taste of this sheep’s and goat’s milk cheese is for sure tasty but is feta cheese healthy?
The History Of Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is said to have originated from Greece in the 6th century BC before becoming popular worldwide in the 19th century. Interestingly however the greek word Feta can be traced back through Italy and then Latin.
Despite this, Feta Cheese absolutely hails from Greece and there are records of a liquid rennet-making method for feta cheese still used today by Greek sheep shepherds today in 2022.
Feta Cheese Nutrition
Feta cheese is very high in calcium which is crucial to maintain strong bones and for your heart. As well calcium it has phosphorus and is low in fat and calories.
The only thing that can make Feta Cheese unhealthy is the high sodium and salt contents which do vary between different types of Feta Cheese. Eating a small amount of Feta Cheese as part of a balanced healthy diet is not unhealthy and a good idea.
Does Feta Cheese Contain Probiotics?
According to this interesting 2008 study, the microflora of Feta Cheese was said to contain Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus coryniformis and Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria have been studied to show benefits from the human body.
It may help with IBS and digestive issues and good probiotic bacteria are super healthy for the human microbiome making Feta Cheese a healthy choice on this front. The good probiotic bacteria in feta cheese does however depend on how long the cheese has been aged and how it was made.
Best Feta Cheese Brands
- One of the most popular feta cheese’s in Walmart is President’s Block All Natural Feta Cheese Chunk for $4.17. It has Vitamin A, 10% Calcium, 5g Protein, and 70 Calories. It is made with cheese cultures and enzymes so it has plenty of Lactobacillus Bacteria which is healthy for the gut. President Feta Cheese uses 100% french sheep’s milk in their feta cheese and no goats or cows milk.
- If you would rather go for a traditional greek brand then Athenos is probably one of the best choices. Their crumbled feta cheese also has 70 calories, 70mg of calcium, 20mg of cholesterol and 0% sugar. The one disappointing thing with Athenos feta cheese is that it is made with cow’s milk and not goat or sheep milk. It’s not vegetarian but is gluten free.
How Is Feta Cheese Made?
Mose feta cheese is made with a mix of pasteurized sheep and goat’s milk following the 9th-century tradition from the greeks. A rennet starter culture is used which is what creates the probiotic bacteria and is essential for the unique feta cheese flavor. The milk is cooked to curd, chopped up, and then drained in a cheese-making bag. Plenty of salt is added to give it flavor and help preserve it.
At this point, the fermentation process can start and the probiotic bacteria can begin to grow. It can take up to 2-months to be ready to eat which is a shorter time compared to parmesan, cheedar and mozzarella cheese which can take years to ferment. You can store it in your fridge for about 7-days once opened but if you are anything like me then it will be gone on day 1.
Is Feta Cheese Vegan or Vegetarian?
Most Feta Cheeses are made with animal rennet and this makes it unsuitable for vegetarians. The sheep and goat’s milk makes it a bad option for vegans. If you are lactose intolerant then you will also want to avoid feta cheese. Some feta cheeses can be suitable for vegetarians if they are made with vegetarian liquid rennet but they are quite hard to source and require some digging around to find.
Final Thoughts – Feta Cheese Is Healthy
So we have established that the healthiest thing about Feta cheese is the probiotic bacteria that may have health benefits. The gut is the second brain and integral for physical and even mental health according to Harvard.
Feta Cheese is a healthy cheese and if you don’t eat too much then you won’t be overloading your body with salt and will be nourishing your body with calcium and probiotic bacteria. Feta Cheese IS Healthy if you don’t eat too much of it every day.