As one-third of American shoppers are actively trying to reduce their meat and dairy intake, plant-based substitutes are skyrocketing in popularity. But is plant-based cheese truly healthier?
In short, it will depend on each individual’s dietary and health needs. For most people, however, plant-based cheese can be a nutritious, delicious swap for dairy cheese. Here’s what you need to know about plant-based cheese and its health benefits.
Several different bases can be used for plant-based cheese, including:
● Coconut. The high fat content in coconut milk, cream, and oil helps mimic the creaminess of dairy cheese. Additional ingredients like potato starch and tapioca may be added for texture, while seasonings like salt and garlic powder help mask the flavor of coconut.
● Root vegetables. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are cooked until soft, then blended with water, oil, and seasonings to achieve a smooth and creamy texture. This is a less common source of plant-based cheese.
● Soy. Tofu and other forms of soy protein are common ingredients in plant-based animal-product substitutes. They often have vegetable oils, gums, and other ingredients to better replicate the texture and taste of dairy cheese.
● Tree nuts and seeds. Nuts or seeds can be soaked, blended, and fermented with the same types of bacteria used in dairy cheese. Salt, nutritional yeast, and herbs are often added for flavor.
Not only is plant-based cheese delicious, but it also offers a host of health benefits.
It’s Ideal for Lactose Sensitivity Lactose sensitivity occurs when a person is unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. It can lead to a host of gastrointestinal issues ranging from mild to severe, depending on how much dairy is consumed and the individual’s ability to digest the lactose. This condition is also incredibly common and can develop at any age; approximately 65% of people develop a reduced ability to digest lactose at some point post-infancy.
Because plant-based cheese is not sourced from dairy products, people with lactose sensitivity can once again enjoy their favorite cheesy meals without the digestive discomfort that can come with traditional dairy cheese. Plus, the options for cheese alternatives are only growing, making it an easy swap in countless dishes. Oddlygood’s line of plant-based cheese comes in both cheddar and mozzarella varieties, available in either log or shredded form.
It’s Rich in Nutrients Plant-based diets are rich in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, oftentimes more so than ones that rely primarily on animal products. Prioritizing plant sources in one’s diet can also lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes since diets high in animal products are also often high in cholesterol and saturated fats.
Plant-based cheese gives consumers a delicious way to incorporate more nutrients into their diet. The ingredients that comprise cheese alternatives — including nuts and seeds, vegetable protein, and soy — each have their own health benefits. Cheese derived from these products, therefore, can have a similar nutritional profile to that of their base ingredients.
It’s important to keep in mind that depending on the ingredients list, plant-based cheese can be lower in protein and calcium than dairy cheese. Consumers can incorporate a variety of protein and vitamin sources into their diets to ensure that they meet their daily nutritional requirements.
It’s Better for the Planet In addition to its individual consumer-based health benefits, plant-based cheese is also healthier for the environment. The carbon footprint of animal-based foods tends to be higher overall than that of plant-based alternatives. Cheese made from plant-based sources comes with lower levels of greenhouse gases, making it a more sustainable process all around.
Additional Health Considerations Overall, plant-based cheese is a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. However, consumers must also take care to ensure that they are consuming the best plant-based cheese for their individual needs. This is best done by carefully reviewing the ingredients list. Those with food sensitivities or allergies must take extra caution to ensure that they can safely eat the components of their chosen plant-based cheese.
Oddlygood’s plant-based cheese products are made primarily of water, vegetable fat, and potato protein, and starch. Consumers can take comfort in knowing exactly what’s going into their bodies as they enjoy their healthy, tasty cheese alternative.
Want to learn more about plant-based dairy alternatives for your restaurant or food service business? Check out Oddlygood’s full line of plant-based cheese products and reach a whole new customer base today.