Wondering if and how cheese and dairy fit into a Mediterranean Diet? If you love your dairy, you can relax. Because in a Mediterranean Diet cheese and dairy are definitely on the menu! In fact, the kind of dairy regularly eaten as part of the Mediterranean diet is not just ‘ok’ – it’s actually good for you. So just what makes dairy such an important part of the Mediterranean diet and way of life? How often should I eat it, and what type of dairy should I be eating? We answer your questions on the health benefits and types of cheese on offer in a Mediterranean Diet. We know there is a growing movement of people ready to embrace the kind of slow, fresh food philosophy which is part of a traditional Mediterranean lifestyle. So let’s explore Mediterranean cheese and dairy. (Also be sure and grab your free Mediterranean cheese recipe book!).
Why is Mediterranean dairy good for you?
Cheese and yoghurt are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet. But how are they good for your health? Let’s find out…
Dairy contain Calcium, which increases peak bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and other conditions. All the while supporting the health of your heart, nerves and muscles. Calcium promotes red blood cell production and supports brain function. But according to Nutrition Australia, it’s not just calcium that dairy provides. Dairy provides a unique package of over 10 essential nutrients. This includes protein, phosphorous, Vitamin A, B2, B12 and essential fatty acids required for lean muscle mass.
Importantly, the fermented cheese and yoghurt which is part of a traditional Mediterranean Diet is also probiotic-rich. Probiotics are great for your gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is proving to have a positive impact on your whole body and brain.
Dairy, and in particular, cheese and yoghurt, are high in protein. This helps you to feel fuller for longer while also improving the flavour of your meals. Who hasn’t enjoyed their salad a little more when sprinkled with cheese?
What should be on my Mediterranean diet cheese and dairy list?
Additive free dairy
In a traditional Mediterranean Diet, cheese and yoghurt is made with milk, natural cultures and not much more. Seeking out pure products containing no artificial additives follows that Mediterranean philosophy. That way, all the goodness is there, and nothing you don’t need.
Particularly good for you, and common in a traditional Mediterranean Diet, is fermented cheese like fetta and fermented yoghurt like Greek yoghurt. This gives you the wonderful probiotics which are so great for your gut health.
Fresh or young cheese.
These cheeses have a higher moisture content, are softer or crumbly and are often milder than aged cheese. They are naturally lower in sodium and fat than regular cheese. The freshness also makes the cheese easier to digest. Traditionally fresh cheese is made from goat and sheep milk, and in Australia, cow’s milk and buffalo milk.
Different parts of the Mediterranean make ‘signature’ fresh cheeses:
- Greek feta
- Cypriot halloumi
- Spanish mato
- French chevre
- Israeli labane,
- Italian ricotta and mozzarella.
How much dairy should we be eating?
According to our friends and Mediterranean diet Dietitians Two Greek Girls, about 30 grams is a standard serve of cheese or 200 grams of yoghurt, or 1 cup of milk. In a healthy Mediterranean diet, they say we should be eating two serves of dairy per day.
f you’d like more advice on implementing the Med Diet, we can wholeheartedly recommend checking out the wonderful Two Greek Girls Cooking. What’s so great about their events, cookbooks and one on one advice, is that it applies directly to the Australian consumer. Desi and Lisa are down to earth and their recipes are easy to make. (If you’re in Brisbane you should also come check out their Mediterranean Diet Expo). Their latest lifestyle book also features a section on Mediterranean cheese written by us!
Where can I find Mediterranean cheese and yoghurt in Australia?
If you want to eat Mediterranean cheese and yoghurt, there are lots of options in Australia. You can source some beautiful imported cheeses from various Mediterranean delis and food outlets. But being the multicultural place we are, there are also many local Mediterrranean producers, such as us here at Olympus Cheese. The Olympus difference is the use of local milk, the freshness of the cheese and the use of less salt and no preservatives. This allows us to make a product which is healthy for Australian consumers. Check out our stockists page for how to source our products in your local area, or a little more about our company.
How do I incorporate more dairy into my Mediterranean diet?
Two serves of cheese or yoghurt a day is not hard at all, as long as you have the inspiration to do it! Here’s some great recipes for you to try out featuring Mediterranean cheese and yoghurt. They are all uncomplicated, fresh and super tasty. (Just the way Mediterranean food should be). Download your FREE copy of our recipe book Mouthwatering and Mediterranean.Wrap your tastebuds around a Mediterranean way of life!
Mouthwatering & Mediterranean
Try our favourite Mediterranean cheese and yoghurt recipes.
Where can I find more articles about dairy and its health benefits?
We’ve also researched and written other articles on dairy, nutrition and Mediterranean cheese.
(Please note, we are not nutritionists just cheesemakers sharing what we’ve learnt about dairy, from our perspective.)
Check out a few of our favourites below: