A major piece of investigative reporting by The New York Times, published today reveals how the US Department of Agriculture works to push sales of commodities (in this case full-fat cheese) that make it harder to meet the nutrition recommendations in its own dietary guidelines.
The Times article portrays the USDA and its Dairy Management entity, as using deceptive marketing practices, and as having more concern about how to get Americans to eat more cheese than helping them to meet the Dietary Guidelines that USDA helps create and implement.
Cheese is currently the number one source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets and has been for numerous years. We eat some 12% of our total calories from sat fat (about 30 grams for 2200-calorie diet), the new Dietary Guidelines Committee report says we should eat no more than 8 percent of calories from saturated fat (equal to 19.5 grams of saturated fat).
A slice of the mozzarella-feta-provolone-cheddar-parmesan-asiago-stuffed Domino’s “Wisconsin” pizza that USDA helped design provides two-thirds of the current saturated fat limit and 430 calories. Most other pizzas, that provide a sufficient one type of cheese, provide about 270 calories a slice and significantly less saturated fat.
We Are Cheese-Loving Nutritionists
As nutritionists, we do love cheese (who doesn’t and Julie is from the Midwest) but we keep in mind that full-fat cheese is high in calories, fat and the harmful sat fat. Almost all nutrition professionals recommend nonfat or lowfat dairy products to help slash sat fat in the US diet.
Julie: “When I eat pizza, I go for authentic Italian “rocket” pizza that uses fresh arugula, tomatoes, olives and small amounts of fresh mozzarella. I also like to have cheeses that are individually-portioned as I really have no self-control if I have larger wedges or blocks of cheese in the fridge.”
Katherine: “I love cheese, but with full fat cheeses, less is more. A little bit of brie with some fresh fruit and wine can be a wonderful indulgence from time to time. But most days I go for part-skim mozzarella, reduced fat cheddars (Cabot and Sargento have great reduced fat lines) or snack-sized bites like Laughing Cow Light or Mini Baby Bel Light. And even reduced fat versions are best in moderation, so a couple of slices (1-2 ounces) is plenty.”
— Julie and Katherine