Healthy Alternatives to Cheese

These 10 alternatives to cheese are a great way to cater to your craving in a healthier way. Plus, enjoy our recipe for homemade cottage cheese.

In this article

Why People Crave Cheese

Cheese is a complex food that appeals to our sensory experiences, notably taste and smell, and has a profound impact on our brain chemistry. The high fat content in cheese contributes to its creamy texture and rich flavor, activating the brain’s reward centers, similar to other high-fat, energy-dense foods. Cheese also contains casein, a protein that, when digested, releases casomorphins, which have an opioid effect, potentially making cheese mildly addictive.

The combination of salt and fat in cheese is particularly enticing, as it enhances flavor and satisfaction. Salt acts on taste buds and can trigger an immediate craving response. Moreover, the fermentation process of cheese creates compounds that contribute to its unique taste and aroma, further heightening the sensory experience and the desire for more.

Finding healthy alternatives to cheese can be challenging due to these complex sensory and biochemical responses. Cheese substitutes may lack the same satisfying combination of fat, umami flavor, and textural components. However, cheese replacements like nutritional yeast or certain plant-based cheese alternative products are becoming more sophisticated, mimicking the sensory attributes that make cheese so crave-worthy.

It is indeed difficult for many to resist the allure of cheese and to transition towards cheese substitutes, given the deep-rooted sensory and emotional connections we have with it. This challenge underscores the importance of understanding individual cravings and the need for compassion as people seek out healthier options.

10 Healthy Alternatives to Cheese

Nutritional yeast
This savory seasoning provides a cheese-like flavor and can be sprinkled on dishes to mimic the taste of cheese. It’s healthier because it’s low in calories, contains no fat or sugar, and is often fortified with B-vitamins.

Cottage cheese
A great substitute for higher-fat cheeses, cottage cheese offers a creamy texture and is rich in protein, which can help with satiety, while being lower in fat and calories.

Greek yogurt
Thick and creamy, it can replace cream cheese or sour cream in recipes. Greek yogurt is high in protein and probiotics, promoting digestive health, and has less fat than traditional cheese spreads.

Mashed avocado can mimic the creaminess of cheese in sandwiches and salads. It’s packed with healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber, making it a heart-healthy alternative.

Ricotta cheese
Lower in fat than many other cheeses, ricotta can be used in dips, spreads, and as a topping. It provides a similar texture to melted cheese, with the benefit of being high in protein and calcium.

Feta cheese
In small amounts, feta can provide the salty, tangy flavor similar to more processed cheeses but with fewer calories and fat. It’s also rich in calcium and phosphorus.

Almond cheese
Made from almonds, this cheese alternative is lower in calories and fat, and free from dairy, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance. It also provides healthy fats and protein.

Goat cheese
Often easier to digest than cheese from cow’s milk, goat cheese is tangy and can be used in similar ways to traditional cheese. It’s typically lower in lactose and contains beneficial fatty acids.

Swiss cheese
Opting for Swiss cheese can be a healthier choice due to its lower fat content compared to other cheeses, and it also has naturally occurring holes, which means you consume less cheese by volume.

This European dairy product is similar to cottage cheese but smoother. It’s high in protein, low in fat, and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes as a cheese substitute.

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Is Cheese Really Unhealthy?

Many people grapple with the question of whether cheese is detrimental to their health. The confusion stems from cheese’s high saturated fat and sodium content, which can be concerning for heart health. However, cheese is also a significant source of essential nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamin B12.

The key is moderation and choosing varieties that are lower in fat and sodium, or opting for a healthy alternative to cheese that doesn’t compromise on nutrition.

Can Cheese Cause Addiction?

The concept of cheese being addictive is met with both intrigue and skepticism. Cheese contains casein, which releases opiates called casomorphins during digestion, and these compounds can stimulate the brain’s reward centers. While the idea of “cheese addiction” may be overstated, it’s clear that the creamy texture and rich flavor of cheese can make it hard to resist, leading some to seek a cheese substitute that offers similar satisfaction without the same level of craving.

Are All Cheeses Created Equal?

A common misunderstanding is that all cheese varieties have the same nutritional profile. In reality, there’s a vast spectrum ranging from high-fat, processed cheeses to those that are lower in fat and more natural. For those looking for a cheese replacement, understanding the differences between cheese types is crucial in making healthier choices that align with dietary needs and preferences.

What’s the Best Cheese Alternative?

With the rise of dietary restrictions and health consciousness, the quest for the best cheese alternative is more prevalent than ever. People often wonder if a cheese substitute can truly replicate the taste and texture of real cheese. While no alternative can perfectly mimic every aspect of cheese, products made from nuts, soy, or nutritional yeast are gaining popularity for their ability to offer a similar experience.

How Does Cheese Affect Weight Loss?

The role of cheese in weight management is a topic shrouded in confusion. Some believe that cheese’s high-calorie content is a surefire way to gain weight, while others claim its high protein and fat can aid in satiety and help with weight loss. The truth lies in balance and portion control, and for those looking to cut calories, a healthy alternative for cheese might be the answer to keeping meals satisfying yet lighter.

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Homemade Healthy Cottage Cheese

This is a simple and healthy recipe for cheese that you can easily make at home. The result is a creamy, mild, and slightly tangy cottage cheese that’s high in protein and low in fat. It’s a perfect addition to salads, spreads, or as a topping on your favorite dishes.

Prep Time

10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes


  • Large pot
  • Thermometer
  • Long knife or curd cutter
  • Slotted spoon
  • Cheesecloth
  • Colander


  • 1 gallon of skim milk
  • ¾ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  1. Pour the skim milk into the large pot and heat it over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 120°F. Use the thermometer to check the temperature.
  2. Once the milk has reached the desired temperature, remove the pot from the heat and slowly stir in the white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 2 hours. This will allow the milk to curdle.
  3. After 2 hours, the curds and whey should be separated. Use the long knife or curd cutter to cut the curds into small pieces.
  4. Place the cheesecloth over the colander and slowly pour the curds and whey into it. The cheesecloth will catch the curds and allow the whey to drain.
  5. Once the whey has drained, sprinkle the curds with salt and gently mix it in. Your homemade cottage cheese is now ready to enjoy!

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