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Friday Feature - Feta

Calling all my fellow cheese lovers - seriously I have GREAT news.

Let's face it - cheese has got a bad rep of late, and lots of us are cutting it out of our diets, BUT listen up cheese fans.......... not all cheese is bad for you yasssss!! — so if you’re a cheese lover, make sure you choose the healthiest cheese out there: feta.

Let's face it cheese is a delicious, savory addition to many dishes, but with the rise in popularity of processed dairy, it’s become a product many people avoid when sticking to a healthy diet. Before I embraced this new lifestyle I used to liberally sprinkle cup fulls of grated cheddar over everything, or devour a cheeseboard at the weekend. Now I am quite proud to say, I rarely eat cows cheese.... and perhaps even more shockingly... I don't miss it.

However Feta and Hallumi are staples in the PK house. So todays Friday Feature let us look at FETA - yassss and YUM!

Made from sheep or goat milk (often combined), feta cheese is a nutrient-rich option for getting the flavor you’re looking for, without the guilt. Feta is easier to digest and much less allergenic and inflammatory than cheeses from cow’s milk, which is encouraging to those of you who may be sensitive to dairy products . If you can, avoid feta cheese made from pasteurized milk products, and obviously it is still a cheese so should be used in moderation - basically like everything in life... boo... One of the benefits of cheese is that it is a high-protein non-meat foodstuff, making it a great addition to vegetarian diets. In feta specifically, almost a quarter of its total calories come from protein, with a small 30g portion providing roughly 10% of the protein needed for one day.

The word “feta,” comes from the Italian word fetta, which means “slice.” It is is a soft brined cheese characterized by few to no holes, a tangy taste and no skin. . One serving of feta cheese (weighing about 28 grams) contains:

  • 74 calories

  • 6 grams of fat

  • 260 milligrams sodium

  • 1.2 grams carbohydrates

  • 4 grams protein

  • 1 gram sugar

  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin/vitamin B2 (14 percent DV)

  • 140 milligrams calcium (14 percent DV)

  • 312 milligrams sodium (13 percent DV)

  • 94 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)

  • 0.5 micrograms vitamin B12 (8 percent DV)

  • 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)

  • 4.2 micrograms selenium (6 percent DV)

So let us look at what nutritious benefits this delicious food can bring to you.

1. Studies have shown that it can protect against Cancer.

As a rich source of calcium, feta cheese allows you to take advantage of research suggesting that calcium (combined with vitamin D) helps protect the body against various types of cancer. Don’t forget that magnesium is vital for calcium absorption. But it’s not just calcium in feta cheese nutrition that protects against cancer! The protein alpha-lactalbumin can be found in this Greek cheese as well, and when it binds to calcium and zinc ions, has been suggested to have antibacterial and anti tumor properties.

2. Supports good bone health

You probably already know that calcium is good for your bones. However, countries with high dairy consumption also have high incidence rates of osteoporosis - say whattt? What’s going on?

First of all, it’s true — calcium supports your bones. It increases peak bone mass, especially in children and teens into those in their 20s. The greater your peak bone mass, the less risk you are at for osteoporosis and other conditions involving the loss of bone mass.However, milk can hurt your bones, as pasteurized cow’s milk is one of the worst places to get the most calcium, due to its habit of causing acidosis (a high level of acid in the body). Instead, find other high-calcium foods (like feta), and try introducing more alkaline foods into your diet, such as parsley, spinach, and zucchini.

3. Boosts your immune system

Another protein found in feta cheese nutrition is called histidine. When histidine is combined with vitamin B6 (also found in feta cheese), it undergoes a molecular process to become histamine. That compound is part of the inflammatory process. Although it is generally important to remove foods that cause inflammation from your diet, a small degree of inflammation is what allows your immune system to fight disease. Eating foods like feta cheese sparingly, combined with a diet high in antioxidants to protect from the damage of excess inflammation and can help to ensure a healthy immune system.

4.Helps you maintain a healthy gut.

Ok, so you've got it by now - I love a probiotic - and guess what - another good thing about feta cheese is that is provides you with helpful probiotics!

For those of you who are new here, quick recap on probiotics... these are little guys that help keep your gut healthy. When they get out of whack, your body becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites etc. As we know not only are probiotics immunity boosters, they allow you to maintain a healthy gut and avoid many digestive problems common in high-stress lifestyles, especially in people who regularly consume GMOs, sugary foods and are exposed to antibiotics and other dangerous chemicals.

5. Prevents headaches, including migraines.

Feta cheese is a good source of vitamin B2 or “Riboflavin.” Vitamin B2 has been known for a long time as a natural remedy for headaches, migraines included. A diet rich in vitamin B2 can serve as a preventative method to limit migraines and other types of chronic headaches. Riboflavin is good for more than just headaches though, in fact studies show that people whose diets are high in vitamin B2 are at a lower risk of degenerative eye diseases such as cataracts, and glaucoma.

7. Part of a natural treatment for anemia.

This one is especially important for me as anemia is something I struggle with. Anemia is related to a problem with the hemoglobin cell that carries oxygen throughout the body. When your body is unable to get enough oxygen to the cells and tissues, it becomes weak and fatigued. Associated with low levels of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12, anemia can be naturally treated with certain foods and supplementation of the deficient nutrients. Therefore, the vitamin B12 (and small amount of iron) found in feta cheese can serve as part of a diet to fight anemia.

I am sure that I don't need to persuade you any further that feta needs to be in your weekly shop but why not try out some of these recipes for it below, or sprinkle on salads or a frittata or one of my favs, on thick cut soughdough toast with broad beans, peas, smashed up with vegan hemp pesto and big chunks of feta... food heaven.

- feta, parma harm, grilled nectarines, runner beans... happiness.

- Lentils, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, mint - magic!

How do you love to use Feta? I would love to know your fav ideas!

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