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The #1 Worst Cheese for Your Heart, Says Dietitian

Your heart says yes, but your health says no.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you're at risk for developing heart problems, or if you're currently looking for ways to lessen the severity of prospective heart issues, changing your diet can provide a lot of help. Watching what you drink and eat, as well as partaking in proper exercise, and even taking supplements, are all factors that can lessen the risk of heart disease.

Just like most foods, too much cheese consumption can contribute to several problems, such as potential heart complications. According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian on our medical expert board member and author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook, The 7 Ingredient Healthy Pregnancy Cookbook, and Fueling Male Fertility, cream cheese is the worst cheese for your heart.

"Cheese can be a part of a heart-healthy diet as long as proper portion sizes are observed and it is consumed along with an overall balanced and healthy diet," says Manaker. "Among the cheese options, cream cheese may be the worst cheese for your heart."

Manaker continues to explain that cream cheese is high in saturated fat and it isn't particularly rich in many micronutrients.

On average, in 2 tablespoons, cream cheese consists of 87% fat in its calories. Its total fat is 10 grams, making up for 15% of your daily value. Meanwhile, 5.9% of it is saturated fat, which is 30% of your daily value.

A single serving of cream cheese also contains 29 milligrams of cholesterol. If you already deal with heart disease, you should be limiting your cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day. Although 2 tablespoons of cream cheese don't seem too bad, be careful when it starts to add up.

cream cheese and bagel

As an added downside, cream cheese also tends to be consumed along with other foods that aren't particularly heart-healthy.

"Since we follow dietary patterns and we don't eat one single food in a vacuum, it is important to look at the big picture of what eating cream cheese means in terms of diet and lifestyle," says Manaker.  "Cream cheese on occasion is likely fine, but excessive amounts of this food won't be the most heart-healthy choice."

If you're looking for cream cheese to schmear onto your morning bagel, or want to use it for some delicious buffalo dip, it's best to choose healthier versions.

Although cream cheese has little to no nutrients, when you are picking up a tub it's worth selecting one that has less fat per serving, but also one that doesn't add in any excess sugar. For example, cream cheeses that have added flavors such as berries or brown sugar and cinnamon may sound healthy, however, they really just add unnecessary sugars. You also want to check the ingredients on the label for any other preservatives added which would include things like corn syrup. If you see anything similar, move on!

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Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla