By Harold McGee
As a food that is essentially a concentrated version of milk, cheese shares many of milk’s nutritional advantages and disadvantages. It’s a rich source of protein, calcium, and energy. Its abundant fat is highly saturated and therefore tends to raise blood cholesterol levels. However, France and Greece lead the world in per capita cheese consumption, at better than 2 oz/60 gm per day, about double the U.S. figures, yet they’re remarkable among Western countries for their relatively low rates of heart disease, probably thanks to their high consumption of heart-protective vegetables, fruits, and wine. Eating cheese as part of a balanced diet is fully compatible with good health.