Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Havarti Cheese Bad For You?



Short answer

Havarti cheese, when eaten in moderation, can be part of a balanced diet due to its protein and calcium content. However, its high saturated fat and cholesterol levels mean it should be consumed carefully, especially by those with heart health concerns. Its low lactose levels may be suitable for those with lactose sensitivity, while sodium content should be considered by individuals managing blood pressure. Always pair with nutrient-rich foods for a balanced intake.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Havarti Cheese

Understanding the nutritional profile of Havarti cheese is crucial for assessing its impact on health. This semi-soft Danish cheese is known for its creamy and buttery taste, making it a popular choice for cheese lovers. However, it's the composition that really dictates where this food fits into a well-balanced diet.

One standard serving size of Havarti cheese, approximately 1 ounce (28 grams), typically contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 110-120 kcal
  • Total Fat: 9-10 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 5-6 grams
  • Cholesterol: 20-30 milligrams
  • Sodium: 170-200 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 0-1 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 6-7 grams
  • Calcium: 200-220 milligrams (about 20% of the Daily Value)

While Havarti cheese does provide a good amount of protein and calcium, the significant presence of saturated fat and cholesterol can be a concern for those monitoring their heart health. Notably, it is low in carbohydrates, suggesting that in moderation, it can fit into a low-carb or ketogenic diet. The sodium content, which contributes to the regulation of fluid balance in the body, is also something to take into account for those with high blood pressure or those following a low-sodium diet.

Certain types of Havarti, like those with added herbs or spices, may have slight variations in their nutritional makeup. Additionally, the exact figures can vary between brands and preparations, so it's always recommended to check the nutrition label on the package for the most accurate information.

It is also important to note that Havarti cheese contains dairy, and therefore lactose, which can be problematic for individuals with lactose intolerance. Most cheese contains lower amounts of lactose compared to milk, but those with severe intolerance should still proceed with caution.

From a micronutrient perspective, Havarti cheese also provides other vitamins and minerals, albeit in smaller amounts. These include vitamin A, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and zinc. Each of these contributes to various functions within the body, such as vision health, nerve function, bone health, and immune system performance.

Scientific research does emphasize the importance of dietary calcium and protein for bone health, with cheese being a beneficial source. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition emphasizes that dairy intake is associated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, especially in elderly populations (Weaver et al., 2016).

When considering the nutritional profile of Havarti cheese, it is essential to balance its benefits, like providing calcium and satisfying protein, with its potential drawbacks, mainly the high saturated fat content. This balance should be considered in the context of one's overall diet and health goals, and when in doubt, consultation with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Content in Havarti

When discussing the health aspects of any cheese, including Havarti, it's essential to consider its saturated fat and cholesterol levels. Havarti is a semi-soft cheese known for its creamy and buttery flavor, which comes from the fats contained within it. As with many dairy products, these fats contribute significantly to the cheese's nutritional profile.

About Saturated Fat in Havarti:

Saturated fat is a type of fat found predominantly in animal products. The consumption of saturated fats has long been associated with increased LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Havarti cheese, similar to other dairy products, contains saturated fats, and thus should be consumed in moderation.

A typical serving size of Havarti (1 ounce, or 28 grams), on average, contains around 5 grams of total fat, of which around three grams are saturated fat. This amount represents approximately 15% of the recommended daily limit for saturated fats, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Cholesterol Levels in Havarti:

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all cells of the body and is necessary for the formation of certain hormones and vitamin D. Our bodies produce cholesterol, but we also get it from our diets – primarily from animal products such as meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products like cheese.

An ounce (28 grams) of Havarti cheese provides about 20 milligrams of cholesterol, which is about 7% of your daily value. While cholesterol intake is not as concerning as once thought, particularly for individuals who do not have a precondition of high cholesterol or heart disease, it is something to be mindful of in your overall diet.

Considerations and Recommendations:

  • Balance is Key: Including Havarti in a balanced diet, where overall saturated fat and cholesterol intake is kept within recommended amounts, can allow for its occasional consumption without significantly raising health risks.
  • Serving Size: Monitoring portion sizes can also help to keep saturated fat and cholesterol consumption in check. Consider enjoying Havarti alongside foods high in unsaturated fats, like vegetables or nuts, to create a more heart-healthy meal.
  • Individual Dietary Needs: For individuals with specific health concerns, such as high cholesterol or a family history of heart disease, it may be wise to limit the intake of Havarti and choose lower-fat cheese options or plant-based alternatives.

It's important to note that individual responses to dietary cholesterol and saturated fat can vary greatly. Therefore, nutrition advice should always be personalized. For personalized dietary recommendations, consulting a registered dietitian or healthcare provider is advisable.

Nutritional Context:

When consumed as part of a varied diet, the impact of the saturated fat and cholesterol found in Havarti cheese can be moderated. Dietary patterns that include a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can accommodate moderate cheese consumption while potentially mitigating negative health effects.

Lactose Content and Considerations for the Lactose Intolerant

Lactose intolerance is a common condition where individuals have difficulty digesting lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. This is due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is required to break down lactose in the digestive system. When lactose is not properly digested, it can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea.

Havarti cheese, like many other cheeses, undergoes a fermentation process whereby bacteria help break down some of the lactose content. This process generally reduces the lactose levels, making aged cheeses such as Havarti more tolerable for individuals with lactose sensitivity. However, the exact amount of lactose remaining can vary depending on the specifics of the cheese-making process. Generally speaking, the longer a cheese is aged, the less lactose it will contain because the bacteria have more time to consume the lactose.

Nutrition experts suggest that most hard and aged cheeses, including Havarti, contain less than 2 grams of lactose per serving, often falling below the 0.5 grams threshold that classifies a food as 'lactose-free.' This makes them a potentially suitable choice for people with lactose intolerance, but individual tolerances can vary widely.

  • Low-Lactose Cheese: Typically, cheeses that contain less than 0.5-1 grams of lactose per serving are considered low-lactose and might be better tolerated by those with lactose sensitivity.
  • Lactose Threshold: It's key for lactose-intolerant individuals to know their lactose threshold. Some may be able to handle the small amounts present in Havarti cheese without symptoms, while others may not.
  • Portion Size: Eating smaller portions of cheese like Havarti can help manage lactose intake and minimize potential digestive discomfort.

If you are lactose intolerant and wish to try Havarti cheese, it may be beneficial to conduct a 'lactose challenge' under the guidance of a healthcare professional. This involves consuming small amounts of lactose-containing foods to determine your personal tolerance level. Additionally, consider pairing Havarti with other foods that aid digestion, as this can sometimes help mitigate minor symptoms.

For those with severe lactose intolerance or a milk allergy, it is crucial to avoid Havarti cheese, as any lactose or milk protein can trigger significant symptoms. In such instances, lactose-free cheese alternatives or vegan cheeses made from nuts, soy, or other lactose-free sources may be preferable.

It's also worth noting that the lactose content in cheese can be affected by additional factors such as the presence of probiotics, which further aid lactose digestion. Some Havarti varieties may contain probiotics, which can be identified through labels such as "live cultures" or "active cultures."

In summary, while Havarti cheese contains lower quantities of lactose compared to fresh dairy products, it is by no means lactose-free. Individuals with lactose intolerance need to approach consumption with awareness of their own tolerance levels and consider trying it in moderation.

Sodium Levels in Havarti and Blood Pressure Concerns

The topic of sodium in our diets is one fraught with confusion and concern, particularly when discussing cheese, a beloved but often salty staple in many diets. When considering Havarti, a popular semi-soft Danish cheese, it's important to tease apart the relationship between its sodium content and potential blood pressure implications.

Havarti, like many cheeses, contains a notable amount of sodium. The reason for the presence of sodium isn't just about creating a savory flavor profile; it also plays a critical role in the cheese-making process, affecting everything from texture to shelf-life. However, the drawback of this necessary addition is its impact on our health, particularly regarding blood pressure.

Excessive sodium intake has been linked to increased blood pressure, a condition known as hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.

Let's break down the numbers. A typical serving of Havarti cheese (1 ounce) can contain approximately 200-300 mg of sodium. For someone following a 1,500 mg daily sodium limit, just one serving of Havarti could account for up to 20% of their daily intake.

This doesn't mean Havarti is off the table for those with hypertension or looking to lower their blood pressure, but it does mean moderation is key. Consuming Havarti in smaller quantities or less frequently can help manage the overall intake of sodium. Additionally, for those particularly sodium-sensitive, seeking out low-sodium cheese alternatives or versions of Havarti can be a wise choice.

Below, find a nutritional comparison table displaying the sodium content in different cheese varieties:

Cheese Type Sodium Content per 1 oz
Havarti 200-300 mg
Cheddar 170-250 mg
Mozzarella 150-200 mg
Swiss 50-60 mg
Cottage Cheese 450-900 mg

When attempting to reconcile the love for cheese with health concerns, it is also crucial to look at the full dietary pattern. Cheese can still be part of a heart-healthy diet if other sources of sodium are limited. Focusing on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help manage blood pressure while still allowing the occasional enjoyment of flavorful cheeses like Havarti.

To make informed decisions about cheese consumption, check nutrition labels closely for sodium content, especially when dealing with processed or pre-packaged cheese products which may have additional sodium for preservation purposes. Remember, personal sensitivity to sodium can vary, so consulting with a healthcare professional or a dietitian about your dietary choices in relation to blood pressure and overall health is always valuable.

Havarti's Place in a Balanced Diet

Navigating the role of cheese, such as Havarti, in a balanced diet can be complex due to its rich nutrient profile juxtaposed with its calorie and fat content. When Havarti is consumed in moderation, it can be incorporated into a balanced diet, offering several nutritional benefits. This section examines how Havarti can fit into the dietary puzzle without compromising your overall health goals.

Macronutrient Composition

First, let's look at the macronutrient content of Havarti cheese. Like most cheeses, Havarti is high in fats, particularly saturated fats. It's a moderate source of protein and has a low carbohydrate content. The exact nutritional values can vary based on the specific brand or recipe, but on average, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of Havarti contains:

  • Calories: 100-120
  • Total Fat: 8-10 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: less than 1 gram

Contribution to Daily Intake

Considering a diet of 2000 calories per day, one serving of Havarti may take up approximately 5-6% of the daily calorie limit for an average adult. It is also important to note that an ounce of Havarti can fulfill around 25% of the recommended daily intake for saturated fat. However, it provides a respectable amount of protein which can be beneficial in maintaining and building muscle mass, satiety, and overall metabolism.

Nutrient Density

Havarti cheese also contributes a variety of essential nutrients to the diet. It is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12, alongside other nutrients, which play vital roles in maintaining bone health, energy metabolism, and nerve function. Ensuring a portion of cheese is paired with nutrient-rich foods can balance out the meal, making it nutrient-dense and fulfilling:

  • Calcium: integral for bone and dental health
  • Phosphorus: works with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth
  • Vitamin B12: essential for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells

Dietary Patterns

Havarti cheese can adapt well to various dietary patterns. It's ketogenic-friendly due to its low carbohydrate content, can fit into a higher-fat dietary approach, and can be a delicious addition to a Mediterranean-style diet when used in moderation. However, those following a low-calorie, low-fat, or dairy-free diet may need to limit or avoid Havarti cheese.

Moderation is Key

As with all foods high in saturated fats, the key to including Havarti in a balanced diet is moderation. Overconsumption can potentially lead to weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease. Dietitians often recommend portion control and limiting cheese intake to a few times per week rather than daily. This approach allows one to enjoy the taste and benefits of Havarti without overindulging.

Pairing with other Foods

To create a balanced meal with Havarti, consider pairing it with high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. This can help offset the cheese's high-fat content and contribute to the overall nutrient diversity of the meal.

Final Thoughts on Balance

Ultimately, Havarti's place in a balanced diet is about strategic enjoyment and mindful eating. Assessing individual dietary needs and goals is crucial when determining how much and how often to consume cheeses like Havarti. For those who wish to include it in their diet, moderation, consideration of total daily intake, and complementary pairing with other healthful foods are recommended strategies for balance.

Frequently asked questions

People with high cholesterol should be mindful of their Havarti cheese consumption due to its cholesterol content of about 20 milligrams per ounce. While dietary cholesterol's impact on blood cholesterol levels is not as significant as once thought, it is still prudent for individuals with high cholesterol to monitor their saturated fat and cholesterol intake and consult with healthcare professionals regarding their diet.

Aged Havarti cheese contains lower levels of lactose and may be tolerated in small amounts by individuals with mild lactose intolerance. Those on a strict lactose-free diet should look for Havarti cheeses labeled as 'lactose-free' or opt for vegan cheese alternatives made from nuts, soy, or other lactose-free ingredients to avoid digestive discomfort.

Havarti cheese contains a moderate amount of saturated fat compared to other cheeses, with 5 grams per ounce, representing roughly 15% of the recommended daily limit based on a 2,000-calorie diet. It is similar in saturated fat content to cheeses like Cheddar but lower than heavier cream-based cheeses. It's important to consume Havarti in moderation, especially if one has concerns about saturated fat intake.

Havarti cheese can fit into a weight management diet when portions are controlled, considering it contains 110-120 calories and 9-10 grams of total fat per ounce. It's best to pair it with nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods like vegetables or whole grains to create a balanced meal that's part of an overall calorie-controlled diet.

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

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • gas
  • cramps
  • diarrhea

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased ldl cholesterol
  • hypertension
  • potential weight gain
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • lactose intolerance symptoms

Ingredients to be aware of


  • high in protein
  • high in calcium
  • contains vitamin a
  • contains vitamin b12
  • contains phosphorus
  • contains zinc
  • suitable for ketogenic diet

Healthier alternatives

  • low-fat cheese options
  • plant-based cheese alternatives
  • lactose-free cheeses
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • lean proteins

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Happy Belly Havarti Cheese

  • Creamy sliced Havarti
  • Convenient 10 slices
  • Versatile cheese option
  • Satisfying 8 ounces
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-27-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-27-2023

Random Page

Check These Out!