Feta Cheese: Nutrition & Benefits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Feta cheese is one of the most popular cheese in the world, and with good reason, but before you add it to every dish, there are a few things you should know.

What is Feta Cheese?

Feta cheese is a brined white cheese that comes from sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. Originating in Greece, this cheese has become a staple cheese option for many different dishes, both within and outside of Greek cuisine. This cheese typically comes in blocks, and is notoriously crumbly, making it ideal as a salad topping.  In the past two decades, it has been decided that only feta cheese made in certain regions of Greece, using traditional methods, can be called “feta cheese”. The taste of this cheese is salty and tangy, and its flavor is potent in most dishes.

Two blocks of cheese and sprigs of oregano and mint.

The salty, creamy taste of Greek feta. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Cheese, feta
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]55.22
Energy [kcal]265
Energy [kJ]1107
Protein [g]14.21
Total lipid (fat) [g]21.49
Ash [g]5.2
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.88
Calcium, Ca [mg]493
Iron, Fe [mg]0.65
Magnesium, Mg [mg]19
Phosphorus, P [mg]337
Potassium, K [mg]62
Sodium, Na [mg]1139
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.88
Copper, Cu [mg]0.03
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.03
Selenium, Se [µg]15
Thiamin [mg]0.15
Riboflavin [mg]0.84
Niacin [mg]0.99
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.97
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.42
Folate, total [µg]32
Folate, food [µg]32
Folate, DFE [µg]32
Choline, total [mg]15.4
Vitamin B-12 [µg]1.69
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]125
Retinol [µg]125
Carotene, beta [µg]3
Vitamin A, IU [IU]422
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.18
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units [IU]16
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0.4
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) [µg]0.4
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.8
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]13.3
4:0 [g]0.71
6:0 [g]0.53
8:0 [g]0.5
10:0 [g]1.82
12:0 [g]1.07
14:0 [g]2.55
16:0 [g]4.75
18:0 [g]1.37
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]4.62
16:1 [g]0.39
18:1 [g]3.98
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.59
18:2 [g]0.33
18:3 [g]0.27
Cholesterol [mg]89
Tryptophan [g]0.2
Threonine [g]0.64
Isoleucine [g]0.8
Leucine [g]1.4
Lysine [g]1.22
Methionine [g]0.37
Cystine [g]0.08
Phenylalanine [g]0.68
Tyrosine [g]0.67
Valine [g]1.07
Arginine [g]0.47
Histidine [g]0.4
Alanine [g]0.64
Aspartic acid [g]0.78
Glutamic acid [g]2.42
Glycine [g]0.1
Proline [g]1.38
Serine [g]1.17
Sources include : USDA

Because this cheese is a brined-curd form of white cheese, it is rich in various probiotics and other essential nutrients, so it is generally considered healthy when consumed in moderation. While some feta cheeses are made from pasteurized goat or sheep’s milk, if you can find unpasteurized varieties, there will be an even richer collection of nutrients. This variety of cheese does have significant amounts of sodium and saturated fat but is still considered one of the healthiest options.

Nutritional Facts of Feta Cheese

When it comes to nutrition, feta cheese is surprisingly packed with different nutrients. In a 1-ounce serving of this cheese, you will take in 75 calories, as well as 4 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, 4 of which come from saturated fats. This briny cheese also offers good levels of calcium, sodium, folic acid, vitamin B-12, B-6, A, and vitamin K, and a range of beneficial probiotics.

Health Benefits of Feta Cheese

The impressive health benefits of feta cheese include its ability to prevent certain types of cancer, strengthen the immune system, reduce migraines, and lower the risk of anemia, among others. Let’s take a look at them:

Cancer

There is a very low concentration of unhealthy fats in this cheese, which probably makes it a beneficial food item for protecting you against mammary cancer, according to research published in the Food Chemistry journal.

Immune System

One of the proteins in this cheese, histidine, becomes histamine in the body and triggers a minor burst of activity in the immune system. This sort of regular work is important to keep the immune system working properly.

Healthy Gut

Feta cheese is packed with more than a dozen different probiotics, which can restore the bacterial balance of your gut and limit symptoms of leaky gut or irritable bowel syndromes.

Eye Disease

As a great source of riboflavin, this cheese is able to stimulate eye health and lower your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.

Anemia

Calcium is critical to the absorption of iron in the body, which prevents anemia. Furthermore, calcium and other minerals are needed for bone health and a lower risk of osteoporosis.

Side Effects of Feta Cheese

There are some side effects of feta cheese, including various allergic reactions, as well as potential cardiovascular issues if eaten in excess.

  • Allergies: Cheese allergies are similar to milk allergies, in that they are caused by the proteins found in the substance, commonly casein or whey. While you are likely already aware of a milk/cheese allergy, feta cheese can cause hives, wheezing, stomach upset, itchy skin and even anaphylaxis in extreme cases.
  • Heart Health: Roughly 2/3 of the fat found in this cheese is saturated fat. While this is okay in small amounts, eating an excessive amount of this cheese (1/2 cup or more per day) could compromise your cholesterol levels and general heart health.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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