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Is Gouda Cheese Bad For You?



Short answer

Gouda cheese can be part of a balanced diet with its high protein and calcium content, benefiting bone and muscle health. However, due to its high saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium levels, it should be consumed in moderation, especially by those with heart or blood pressure concerns. It's also lower in lactose, which may suit those with lactose intolerance, but those with histamine sensitivity should be cautious.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Gouda Cheese

Gouda cheese is well-known for its rich, buttery, and slightly sweet flavor. But beyond its taste, what does Gouda cheese offer in terms of nutrition? Let's take a closer look at its macro and micronutrient contents to understand how it fits into a balanced diet.

Macronutrients and Calories

Gouda cheese, like many other cheeses, is calorie-dense and nutrient-rich. A typical one-ounce (28-gram) serving of Gouda cheese contains the following approximate nutritional values:

  • Calories: 100-110
  • Total Fat: 7-9 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 30 milligrams
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Carbohydrates: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: 0 grams

It's important to note that Gouda is a high-fat and high-protein food with minimal carbohydrates, making it suitable for low-carb diets like keto. However, the saturated fat content should be considered in the context of your overall dietary fat intake.


One of the benefits of Gouda cheese is its impressive array of micronutrients. It is particularly rich in calcium, an essential mineral for bone health. Here is an overview of the significant micronutrients found in a one-ounce serving:

  • Calcium: 200-300 milligrams (20-30% Daily Value)
  • Vitamin B12: 0.65 micrograms (11% Daily Value)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.11 milligrams (6% Daily Value)
  • Phosphorus: 140 milligrams (14% Daily Value)
  • Zinc: 0.9 milligrams (6% Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A: 100-125 IU (2% Daily Value)

The rich calcium content of Gouda makes it a favorable choice for bone health, but it also contains other vitamins and minerals necessary for overall good health. Vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining healthy nerve cells and producing DNA, while riboflavin is important for energy production and metabolic processes.

Fatty Acid Composition

Gouda cheese contains a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats. While saturated fats have been traditionally linked to heart disease, recent studies suggest that the relationship might not be as clear-cut. For example, a comprehensive review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no clear association between dairy fat and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, moderation is key, and it's important to balance intake of different types of fats as part of a healthy diet.

In summary, Gouda cheese has a rich nutritional profile with high protein and fat content. It also offers a good amount of essential micronutrients like calcium and vitamin B12. However, its high saturated fat content means it should be consumed in moderation, especially for individuals with dietary fat concerns.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Content in Gouda

Gouda cheese, like many full-fat dairy products, contains a significant amount of saturated fat and cholesterol. While these components are essential in small amounts for bodily functions, it is crucial to understand their levels in Gouda and how they might affect your health.

Saturated Fat:

Saturated fats, found in high amounts in animal products, are often linked to an increased risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. A single ounce (28 grams) of Gouda cheese holds about 5 grams of saturated fat, which is nearly a quarter of the American Heart Association's recommended maximum daily intake of 20 grams for someone consuming a 2,000-calorie diet. It's important to factor this into your overall diet, especially if you have existing heart health concerns or high cholesterol.


The cholesterol in Gouda cheese can also be a concern for heart health. An ounce of Gouda provides 31 milligrams of cholesterol, which is about 10% of the 300 milligram daily limit advised for those at risk of heart disease or high cholesterol. While recent studies suggest dietary cholesterol may have a smaller effect on blood cholesterol levels than once thought, the consensus remains that moderation is key.

The Dietary Context:

It's essential to consider the role of the broader diet when examining the impact of saturated fat and cholesterol from Gouda cheese. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help mitigate the possible adverse effects of saturated fats and cholesterol. Including these heart-healthy foods in your diet might allow for occasional indulgences in high-saturated fat choices like Gouda without significant health risks.

Expert Recommendations:

Dietary guidelines and experts typically advise limiting the consumption of high-fat dairy products. The American Heart Association suggests choosing low-fat or non-fat dairy options when possible. However, they also recognize that dairy can be a part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation and when balanced with physical activity and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Moreover, recent comprehensive reviews, like one published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2018, indicate that cheese consumption may not be as directly related to increased heart disease risk as was previously believed, particularly due to its complex matrix of nutrients that may modulate the effects of saturated fat and cholesterol.

Individual Considerations:

Each individual's reaction to dietary saturated fat and cholesterol can vary. Some people, known as hyper-responders, may experience a more significant increase in blood cholesterol levels when they consume dietary cholesterol. It’s crucial for individuals to follow the advice of healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations based on individual health status, genetic factors, and lifestyle.

In summary, while Gouda cheese contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, the broader context of your diet and individual health needs will significantly influence its potential impact on your health. Moderation and a balanced diet, paired with professional guidance, are key components in determining how Gouda cheese fits into your dietary pattern.

Sodium Levels and Blood Pressure Concerns

The impact of sodium on blood pressure is a well-established aspect of nutrition science. Sodium plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular function and fluid balance in the body. Yet, an excess of sodium intake can lead to increased blood pressure, a condition known as hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. For some individuals, particularly those sensitive to sodium or with existing hypertension, dietary sodium needs to be carefully monitored.

Gouda cheese, like many aged cheeses, contains a significant amount of sodium. This is largely due to the cheese-making process where salt is added for flavor and as a preservative to inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria. The sodium content in Gouda can vary based on the brand and aging time, but on average, a 28-gram serving – roughly a one-ounce slice – can contain between 150-250 milligrams of sodium. As part of a diet where the daily recommended sodium intake is less than 2,300 milligrams for healthy adults, according to the American Heart Association, the amount of Gouda cheese consumed should be considered in this context.

For those with hypertension or prehypertension, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an even lower sodium limit of 1,500 milligrams per day. It becomes especially important for individuals in these groups to be mindful of high-sodium foods, including Gouda cheese. Incorporating Gouda into a balanced diet requires awareness of one's overall daily sodium consumption.

It's not all dire, though; the body does need some sodium to function properly, and cheese like Gouda also offers nutritional benefits such as calcium and protein. When consumed in moderation, Gouda can be part of a healthy diet. However, for those who consume large amounts of cheese or have diets high in processed foods, the cumulative sodium intake could pose a health risk.

Studies have indicated that reducing sodium intake can lead to significant improvements in blood pressure, particularly in individuals who are sensitive to its effects. A systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration found that reduced sodium intake decreased blood pressure in those with hypertension (He FJ et al., 2013).

To manage the potential blood pressure concerns associated with sodium, it is advisable to:

  • Moderate cheese consumption and incorporate a variety of low-sodium or sodium-free cheeses into the diet.
  • Read nutrition labels carefully to be aware of the sodium content in each serving of cheese and other foods.
  • Opt for reduced-sodium versions of Gouda, if available, to enjoy the taste with less sodium content.
  • Incorporate potassium-rich foods, which can help balance out the effects of high sodium and may mitigate blood pressure increases.
  • Discuss dietary choices with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, particularly if there is a history of or a predisposition to high blood pressure.

Choosing to enjoy Gouda cheese as part of a balanced diet is a personal one, and understanding the sodium content can help individuals make informed decisions. By keeping an eye on portion sizes and overall daily sodium intake, Gouda can be consumed responsibly without necessarily increasing the risk for hypertension.

Calcium and Protein Benefits in Gouda Cheese

Gouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese widely celebrated for its rich, unique flavor and smooth texture. However, beyond its culinary delights, Gouda holds substantial nutritional value, notably its high content of calcium and protein. These nutrients play a vital role in maintaining good health and are present in significant amounts within this Dutch cheese.

Calcium: Essential for bone health, calcium helps in maintaining bone strength and density. Aged Gouda cheese is particularly high in calcium. In fact, a single ounce (28 grams) can provide about 198 milligrams of calcium, which is approximately 20% of the daily recommended intake for most adults, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Regular consumption of calcium-rich foods like Gouda helps in preventing osteoporosis and fractures, especially in the older demographic.

  • Prevents Bone Loss: Calcium is a critical mineral in mitigating the rate of bone loss, particularly as one ages.
  • Supports Dental Health: The calcium in Gouda also contributes to strong teeth, preventing dental decay and tooth loss.
  • May Aid in Weight Management: Some studies suggest that increased dietary calcium might help in weight management, although more research is needed in this area.

Protein: Gouda is a good source of high-quality protein, which contains all nine essential amino acids required by the human body for growth and repair. Consuming an adequate amount of protein is important for muscle maintenance, enzyme and hormone production, and overall bodily functions. An ounce of Gouda cheese can offer around 7 grams of protein, contributing to the total daily protein needs of the body.

  • Muscle Maintenance: Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, and regular intake aids in maintaining muscle mass, particularly important as we age.
  • Cell Repair and Growth: Adequate protein intake supports the body's natural ability to repair and grow cells, including skin, hair, and nails.
  • Metabolic and Physiological Processes: Proteins play a crucial role in virtually all biological processes. They are necessary for enzymatic activities, transporting molecules through the bloodstream, and signaling pathways within the body.

When consuming Gouda cheese, it's important to consider the full nutritional profile, including its calcium and protein content. Incorporating Gouda into a balanced diet can contribute to meeting your daily requirements for these vital nutrients. As with any cheese, mindful consumption is key, taking into account the calories and fat content as well. It is always advisable to consume cheese in moderation as part of a varied and balanced diet.

References to the importance of calcium and protein in Gouda cheese emerge from various nutritional studies such as the effects of dietary calcium on bone density (National Institutes of Health, 2017) and protein's role in muscle mass maintenance (Journal of Nutrition, 2016). Such findings underpin the relevance of including Gouda cheese as a calcium and protein source within a health-conscious dining plan.

Lactose Content and Digestive Considerations

Gouda cheese, like many aged cheeses, contains lower levels of lactose compared to fresh dairy products such as milk. The cheese-making process involves the conversion of lactose, the sugar present in milk, into lactic acid by bacteria. As Gouda cheese ages, this bacterial action reduces the lactose content even further, making it relatively easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance.

However, individuals with a significant lactose intolerance should still consume Gouda in moderation. The lactose content can vary depending on the specific cheese's aging time, with younger Gouda cheeses retaining more lactose. It's important for those with lactose sensitivity to be aware of this variability.

For individuals with digestive concerns, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the high-fat content in Gouda might pose an issue. Fatty foods, in general, can potentially trigger digestive discomfort in some people with IBS, making portions and frequency important factors to consider when consuming Gouda cheese.

It's also worth mentioning that cheese like Gouda can provide probiotic benefits, depending on how it is manufactured. Some studies suggest that aged cheeses may contain beneficial bacteria that can contribute to gut health, although these benefits are not as pronounced as those provided by more traditional probiotic foods like yogurt or kefir.

Quick Lactose Content Reference for Gouda Cheese:

  • Fresh Gouda (1-2 months aged): Higher lactose content.
  • Medium-aged Gouda (6 months): Reduced lactose content.
  • Mature Gouda (1 year or more): Significantly lower lactose content.

It's advisable for individuals with lactose intolerance to opt for more mature varieties of Gouda and to start with small portions to gauge their body's reaction. Furthermore, consulting with a healthcare provider or a dietary specialist can help determine an appropriate level of cheese consumption that won’t disturb digestive health.

When incorporating Gouda into the diet, balance is key. Pairing this cheese with foods high in fiber, such as fruits, nuts, or whole grains, might help moderate fat absorption and support overall digestive wellness. Always listen to your body’s signals and adjust your intake according to your personal digestive response.

Finally, it’s worth highlighting that digestive considerations are deeply personal. Therefore, while Gouda cheese's lactose content may be tolerable for many, its impact can vary greatly from person to person.

Gouda Cheese and Histamine Sensitivity

When discussing cheese and health, an often-overlooked factor is histamine—an organic nitrogenous compound involved in local immune responses. Histamine is also present in many fermented foods, including Gouda cheese. This is where the intersection of Gouda cheese and histamine sensitivity becomes a relevant subject for some individuals.

Histamine sensitivity, or intolerance, occurs when the body cannot break down histamine properly, leading to an accumulation which can cause symptoms such as headaches, hives, digestive disturbances, and even respiratory problems. The enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the body is diamine oxidase (DAO), and its deficiency can lead to such intolerance.

Fermented Foods and Histamine Levels:

Fermented foods, like aged cheeses, are known for higher levels of histamine. Gouda, being a semi-hard cheese often aged for several months to years, undergoes fermentation that helps develop its flavor and texture. This process, however, also results in the accumulation of histamine. For those with histamine intolerance, consumption of Gouda cheese can potentially trigger an adverse reaction.

  • Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance: Symptoms to watch for include gastrointestinal discomfort, skin rashes, congestion, or respiratory issues following the consumption of histamine-rich foods.
  • Individual Variability: It's important to note that not everyone with histamine sensitivity will react to Gouda cheese. Sensitivity levels vary, and some may tolerate small amounts.

Scientific Perspective:

Research on histamine intolerance is ongoing, but some studies have suggested that certain populations may be more affected. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted that histamine tolerance can vary significantly among individuals, suggesting a possible genetic component to the condition.

Managing Histamine Intolerance:

For those with confirmed histamine intolerance, the management typically involves a two-pronged approach:

  1. Dietary Adjustments: Reducing or eliminating high-histamine foods from the diet can help manage symptoms. This may include limiting the intake of aged cheeses like Gouda.
  2. Supplementation: Some healthcare providers recommend supplements such as DAO enzyme to help break down histamine in foods during digestion.

Consulting with a Healthcare Professional:

It's essential for individuals who suspect they have histamine intolerance to seek advice from a dietitian or healthcare professional. An expert can help determine the right course of action, which may include an elimination diet to identify problematic foods. Furthermore, proper diagnosis can rule out other conditions that might mimic histamine intolerance.


While Gouda cheese can be a delicious and nutritious addition to many diets, it can pose problems for those with histamine sensitivity. Understanding one's tolerance level is key, and for those affected, seeking an individualized approach to diet can help mitigate any adverse effects while still enjoying a variety of foods.

Frequently asked questions

Gouda cheese can be included in a heart-healthy diet when consumed in moderation and as part of a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Its saturated fat and cholesterol content should be considered, especially for individuals with heart health concerns. A balance of different fat types and regular physical activity also contributes to heart health.

People with lactose intolerance can often eat Gouda cheese without discomfort, as it contains lower levels of lactose due to the fermentation process and aging. Mature Gouda varieties have even less lactose and may be better tolerated, but it's important to consume it in moderation and pay attention to individual reactions.

The aging process of Gouda cheese concentrates its flavors and nutrients, often leading to higher calcium and protein content per serving. It also results in lower lactose content, making it easier to digest for some individuals. However, aged Gouda may also have increased levels of sodium and histamine, which should be considered by individuals with sensitivities.

Yes, Gouda cheese is keto-friendly due to its high-fat, high-protein, and low-carbohydrate profile, making it a suitable option for those following a ketogenic diet. However, as with all foods on a keto diet, portion control is important to maintain the appropriate balance of macronutrients.

Ask a question about Gouda Cheese and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • indigestion
  • bloating
  • allergic reactions
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • headaches
  • hives
  • congestion

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased risk of heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • weight gain

Ingredients to be aware of


  • bone health
  • dental health
  • muscle maintenance
  • cell repair
  • metabolic processes
  • potentially aids in weight management

Healthier alternatives

  • low-fat or non-fat dairy options
  • reduced-sodium gouda
  • plant-based cheeses

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Colby Jack Cheese

  • Rich flavor blend
  • Convenient half loaf
  • Versatile use
  • Gluten-free
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-27-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-27-2024

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