A cheese plate.
Photo: James Worrell

Whether it’s sliced, cubed, crumbled, or shredded, Americans can’t get enough cheese. According to a recent survey of 2,000 adults by market research firm Mintel, a whopping 95 percent reported having eaten cheese within the past three months, with the majority saying they’d eaten it several times per month.

A few downsides come with all that consumption, says Amy Keating, a registered dietitian at Consumer Reports: “Cheese is an excellent source of protein and supplies calcium, but it’s easy to nibble on; and the calories, saturated fat, and sodium can add up.”

An ounce of cheddar, for example, supplies nearly 7 grams of protein and 200 mg of calcium—that’s 20 percent of your daily calcium need. But it also has 114 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 185 mg of sodium. That can put you over your daily limit if you’re mindlessly snacking on a cheese plate, Keating says. “A good idea,” Keating says, “is to stick to 100 to 200 calories’ worth of cheese as a snack or at parties.”

More on Portion Control

And on top of that, you have to consider what you pair with the cheese. In recent CR tests, even healthy crackers had 5 to 40 calories each, and some had 50 mg of sodium per cracker.

A better option, Keating says, is to enjoy cheese with fruit or raw nuts. These foods have no added sodium or other added ingredients, such as sugars, and they’re good components of a healthy diet.

To help keep your portions in check, we calculated what 100 calories of popular cheeses looks like, so you can snack soundly at your next soirée or snack break.