Keto Cheese 101: The 7 Best Types of Cheese for a Ketogenic Diet

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Updated on

Keto is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein way of eating. Fortunately, there are many delicious types of keto cheese that more than meet these macronutrient needs. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of cheese on a ketogenic diet, and offer a list of the best cheese for keto. 

Table of Contents

What Makes Cheese a Great Keto Food? 

keto cheese list

Eating keto-friendly cheese can support the clinically studied benefits of keto including:1 

  • weight loss
  • reduced inflammation 
  • increased energy 
  • enhanced mental clarity 
  • freedom from carb addiction 

These benefits come from entering the metabolic state called ketosis. When you restrict carbs and boosting fat consumption your body switches from relying on carbs for energy, to breaking down fat into energy molecules called ketones. 

The standard keto macronutrient ratio for beginners is: 

  • 80% calories from fat
  • 15% calories from protein
  • 5% calories from fat

If your daily caloric intake is 2,000, a standard keto macronutrient breakdown looks like: 

  • 178 grams of fat
  • 75 grams of protein, 
  • 25 grams of carbs 

This works out to 2.3 grams of fat for every 1 gram of protein. 

The best keto cheese offers 2.3 grams of fat or more per gram of protein, while remaining low-carb.

 Below you can see a macronutrient comparison of some popular cheeses

Nutrients Per 100 grams (3.5 oz)Cream CheeseTriple Cream Brie (Saint Andre)CheddarSwiss CheeseParmesan 
Fat35g 42g33g31g28g
Carbs1g0g3g1g14g
Protein7g10.5g23g27g28g
Fat: Protein Ratio by grams5:14:11.4:11.1:11:1

Benefits of Cheese on Keto

Studies show that eating a ketogenic diet offers many of the same health benefits as eating cheese. These include: 

  • Weight loss
  • Neurological protection
  • Improved heart health
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Abundance of essential fat-soluble vitamins

Keto Cheese is a Healthy Fat

For people who are already on keto and have realized the nourishing power of fat-loaded whole foods, the benefits of cheese won’t be surprising. 

But for others still living in the shadow of mainstream 1950’s dietary advice linking saturated fat-rich foods with heart disease, the benefits of cheese on keto might come as a surprise. 

So let’s start with a quick look at the modern research dispelling the myth that fat is bad: 

A major 2010 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 21 previous studies including 347,747 people, with a follow-up period of between 5-23 years. The researchers found that consuming saturated fats was not significantly associated with stroke or heart disease. [6]

Then in 2020, a bellwether paper published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology, asserted, “Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, eggs, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.” [28]

Now that we’re clear on that, let’s turn to the specific benefits of keto cheese. 

Enhanced Weight Loss

Many people choose the ketogenic diet because of its proven ability to help you lose weight quickly. 3 4  And observational studies show that consuming cheese may also support weight loss. 

A large-scale 2018 study of over 2,500 men revealed that after a five-year follow-up, participants who consumed higher amounts of cheese had a lower body mass index.1

But how can a high-fat food lead to weight loss, especially when considering that the participants weren’t eating keto? 

Studies show that the combination of fat and protein in dairy substantially increases sensations of fullness and satiety. 3 4 This makes cheese a healthy whole food replacement for processed foods loaded with added sugars. 

In short, when you eat cheese, it’s likely you’re eating less junk. So when transitioning to a keto diet, the satiating power of cheese can help you kick your carb addiction

Looking specifically at cottage cheese, studies found that it matches eggs in its ability to suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin and create feelings of fullness.5 6

It’s not surprising then that a comprehensive review of 16 studies found that consuming cheese and other high-fat dairy products can lower your risk of obesity. [10]

This satiating quality of cheese makes it the perfect addition to intermittent fasting plans, and a staple when combining intermittent fasting and keto

Neurological Protection

Studies show that a ketogenic diet can reduce symptoms and slow the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. 7 8 And when it comes to boosting neuroprotection, keto and cheese are a one-two punch. 

A 2018 study found that the compounds oleamide and dehydroergosterol found in Camembert cheese reduce inflammation in areas of the brain specifically associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Researchers concluded that cheese is neuroprotective and that eating cheese rich in these compounds protects against neurodegenerative disorders.9

A 2021 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, linked consuming cheese with better cognition as we age. 10 

Heart Health

As we’ve covered above, the most current science tells us that contrary to 1950’s dietary dogma, cheese and other whole foods high in saturated fat are not associated with heart disease. 

In fact, studies looking specifically at the consumption of dairy fats including cheese suggest that it may even be good for our heart. 

In  2006 study of nearly 200 men and women aged 45-75 years found that participants who regularly consumed dairy fat may have a reduced risk of a heart attack.10

A  2017 analysis of 29 studies involving more than 938,465 subjects, found that people who ate 10 grams of cheese (⅓ ounce) per day had a moderately lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not. 

Anti-Cancer

Cheese is a good source of the fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This compound is produced when grass is digested by ruminant animals like cows, goats, and sheep. 

Recent research reveals that CLA can inhibit the growth of cancer and tumors. Specific sites include colon, stomach, prostate, breast, and liver. 12  And the anti-cancer properties of CLA are significant!

A 2005 study found that women consuming at least four servings of high-fat dairy each day had a 34% lower risk of colon cancer. 13

Research also suggests that consuming CLA reduces inflammation and thereby strengthening your immune system. A study involving 23 young men getting 5.6 grams of daily CLA resulted in decreased inflammatory markers including tumor necrosis factor and C-reactive protein.14

Vitamin K 2

Found in abundance in keto cheese, the benefits of K2 are only beginning to be revealed by science. And it’s thought to be the elusive activator X vitamin to which pioneering diet researcher Weston A. Price attributed the robust health of traditional peoples. 

Most research on vitamin K has been done on K1, which you get from plants. But it turns out that k2 is essential to many health improving functions. 

Vitamin K2 ensures healthy circulation, breaks down calcium, reduces blood clots and heart disease.  In our bones, K2 activates minerals that bind proteins thereby increasing bone strength and reducing fractures. And preliminary research reveals that K2 can slow and stop the spread of certain cancers in the liver and prostate. 15 16 17

K2 is so cardio-protective in fact that for every 10 micrograms you consume each day, your risk of heart disease is reduced by 9%. 

Though we don’t have an official RDA for K2, researchers recommend between 10 and 45 micrograms daily. You can more than meet your K2 needs with a single serving of cheese. At the moderate end, cheddar offers 24 micrograms per 100-gram serving. And varieties on the keto cheese list like Gouda and soft-ripened French cheeses can contain between 64 and 100 micrograms per 100 grams. 18

Keto Cheese List: Top 7 Keto Cheeses

The list of best keto cheese is lead by the fatties, creamiest, lowest carb varieties. These are generally softer cheeses. 

A helpful rule of thumb: Look for cheese labeled “triple cream.” Though there isn’t an industry-standard around what that means exactly, it’s likely loaded in nurturing fats and low in protein. 

Harder cheese like cheddar and parmesan are also great additions to a keto diet, but they tend to be higher in protein. They will need to be balanced with other fats to meet your macronutrient ratios. 

1.Cream Cheese

cream cheese keto

The quintessential keto cheese and number 1 on our list, cream cheese boasts loads of healthy fats and very low-carbs. Though it’s also low in protein, most keto diets center on high-protein foods like red meat, and it can be a struggle to keep protein low enough!

To get the benefits of probiotics, choose “cultured” cream cheese. But standard Philidelphia cream cheese is a solid high-fat option that you can find pretty much everywhere. 

Nutrients per 100g of Cream Cheese
Calories 357
Fat35g
Saturated Fat22g
Carbohydrates1g
Protein7g
Fat: protein5:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 1111.0IU (37% RDA)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.2mg (18% RDA)
Selenium 8.6µg (16%) 

2.Saint Andre Tripple Cream Soft Ripened Cheese 

 

France is one of the few Western countries that has successfully resisted the bogus anti-fat propagandists. And their decadent soft cheeses are a delicious testament to their ongoing resistance. 

Not coincidentally, France was left out of Ansel Keys’ (in)famous 7 countries study–the flawed 1950’s observational research that founded the modern anti-fat movement. 

Saint Andre is one of the most widely available soft French cheeses. It offers 75% content thanks to the addition of heavy cream, making it buttery and rich while being carb-free!

Nutrients per 100g of Saint Andre
Calories 420
Fat42g
Saturated Fat22g
Carbohydrates0g
Protein10.5g
Fat: protein4:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 1400.0IU (39% RDA)

3.La Tur Caseificio Dell’alta Langa

best cheese for keto

The Northern Italian answer to French soft ripened cheese, La Tur is unique in it’s blend of cow, goat, and sheep milk. This means it offers a great A2 to A1 protein ratio and may be easier to digest for some people. 

Most importantly, La Tur is the kind of unbelievably delicious food that will make you thankful to be on keto. 

As one pretentious (but not wrong) cheese magazine describes it, the “flavors are light and delicate, tasting of creme fraiche, mushrooms and grass with a slight tang. La Tur is very accessible and balanced.”

Nutrients per 100g of La Tur
Calories 276
Fat24.5g
Saturated Fat17.5g
Carbohydrates0g
Protein14g
Fat: protein1.75:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 875IU (39% RDA)

4.Cream Havarti

A traditional Danish cheese that’s semi-soft, mild, and buttery-rich. Havarti can vary in fat, carb, and protein content, so look for “cream” Havarti varieties to keep it keto. 

Boar’s Head makes a delicious and accessible variety. 

Nutrients per 100g of Havarti
Calories 378
Fat35g
Saturated Fat19.1g
Carbohydrates0g
Protein21g
Fat: protein1.6:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 21.35% RDA

5. Goat’s Milk Gouda

Made in Holland from goat’s milk for people seeking A2 alternatives to cows milk. 

The variety called Midnight Moon from Cypress Grove, has been aged six months creating a nutty, buttery flavor and a “sweet” caramel finish. 

On the pricier side, this cheese is best enjoyed on its own or with fatty prosciutto. 

Nutrients per 100g of Goats Milk Gouda
Calories 378
Fat42g
Saturated Fat24.5g
Carbohydrates0g
Protein28g
Fat: protein1.5:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 25% RDA

6. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar goes way back to the 11th century when it was created in the English village of…you guessed it, Cheddar! 

As one of the most beloved (and addictive) cheeses around, cheddar can play a starring role in numerous keto meals. The only drawback is that it has a relatively high amount of protein to fat ratio. Tillamook cheddar is a delicious and reliable American standard. 

Nutrients per 100g of Cheddar Cheese
Calories 402.5
Fat32.9g
Saturated Fat18.6g
Carbohydrates3.1g
Protein22.8g
Fat: protein1.4:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 25% RDA

7. Munster Cheese

Originally produced by monks and nuns in the middle ages in the North East of France, the best Munster is still made from unpasteurized cows milk in the summer in autumn. 

Munster cheese is smooth, creamy, and mild, though it can be quite aromatic (stinky) when ripened. 

Beyond a plethora of healthy fats, the main dietary boon of Munster is it’s title as the keto cheese on the list with the highest amount of hard-to-get vitamin K2 at 801 ng/g. 19

Wisconsin Cheese Company makes a great muenster.

Nutrients per 100g of Munster 
Calories 332.5
Fat29.8g
Saturated Fat18.9g
Carbohydrates1.1g
Protein23.1g
Fat: protein1.3:1
Significant Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A 25% RDA

Worst Cheese on Keto? 

Now that we’ve covered the best keto cheese, let’s take a brief stab the worst. 

Canned Cheese 

Only 51% of the contents even has to be cheese! The rest is fillers, including broken down and reconstituted dairy proteins, emulsifiers, and inflammatory vegetable oils

The macros are 6g of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and  5 grams of protein per serving, which could eek it into a keto diet. But the question is, why would you want to? 

Keto Cheese: The Takeaway

Cheese can provide an abundance of healthy fats, complete proteins, vitamin K2, and variety to your keto diet. 

Our list of the 7 best keto cheeses is based on how well each cheese fits into a keto macronutrient profile, along with how darn tasty they are. 

For most people going keto means cutting out foods. But when it comes to keto cheese, this is one area of your diet-along with organ meats- where a whole new world of variety is possible.

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED