Is Provolone Cheese REALLY Healthy?

Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Aaron

Yes, provolone cheese can be a healthy choice in the context of a balanced, varied diet, particularly when consumed in moderation.

Provolone is an Italian cheese traditionally made from cow’s milk. Its flavor can range from mild and creamy (when it’s young) to sharp and full-bodied (when it’s aged). It melts well, making it a popular choice for sandwiches, pizzas, and casseroles.

However, how healthy provolone cheese is can also depend on what you’re comparing it to.

Compared to a serving of deep-fried fast food, a slice of provolone could be considered quite healthy. On the other hand, compared to a serving of fresh vegetables, it might not be as good of a choice.

Provolone vs Other Cheeses

Provolone cheese, like all cheeses, has a unique nutrient profile, and its healthiness can vary compared to other cheeses depending on what nutritional aspects you’re focusing on.

Here’s how provolone generally stacks up to some other popular types of cheese:

  1. Calories: Provolone is moderately calorically dense. It contains fewer calories per serving compared to creamier, full-fat cheeses like Brie or Blue cheese, but more than lower-calorie options like cottage cheese or mozzarella. Read more in Provolone vs Mozzarella.
  2. Fat: Provolone is somewhat high in fat, as are most cheeses. It contains less fat than full-fat cheeses like cheddar, but more than lighter options like feta or ricotta.
  3. Saturated Fat: Like other full-fat cheeses, provolone contains a significant amount of saturated fat. This is less than some cheeses like cheddar but more than low-fat or fat-free cheeses.
  4. Protein: Provolone provides a good amount of protein, similar to many other types of cheese.
  5. Sodium: Provolone can be high in sodium, which is common for many types of cheese. The sodium content can vary depending on the specific brand and type, with some lower-sodium options available.
  6. Calcium: Like most dairy products, provolone is high in calcium. The calcium content is comparable to that of other cheeses.

Nutritionally, provolone offers a good source of protein and calcium, but like most cheeses, it’s also high in saturated fat and sodium.

It’s considered a medium-calorie cheese, providing fewer calories than rich, creamy cheeses like brie but more than lighter ones like cottage cheese.

Nutrition Profile

Here’s a general nutritional profile for a serving of provolone cheese, which is typically around 1 ounce (28 grams). Please note that the exact nutritional content can vary depending on the specific brand and variety. Checked with USDA & URMC*

NutrientAmount Per Serving% Daily ValuePotential Health Benefits
CalorieAround 1005%Energy for daily activities
ProteinAround 7g14%Supports muscle growth, repair, and overall health
FatAround 7-8g10-12%Provides energy, supports cell growth
Saturated fatAround 5g25%Energy source, but should be limited due to potential heart health issues
CarbohydratesLess than 1g<1%Minimal contribution to daily energy
Fiber0g0%N/A (provolone doesn’t contain fiber)
SugarsLess than 1g<1%Minimal contribution to daily energy
SodiumAround 250mg10%Essential for fluid balance, but should be limited due to potential impact on blood pressure
Calcium Around 200mg20%Supports bone health, muscle function
Vitamin AVariesVariesSupports immune health, vision, and cell growth
Vitamin B12VariesVariesSupports brain function and the formation of red blood cells
These daily values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Based on the nutritional profile presented in the table, provolone cheese can be a valuable addition to a balanced diet, offering key nutrients such as protein and calcium. However, like many cheeses, it’s also high in saturated fat and sodium, nutrients that should be limited for overall heart health.

Provolone’s protein content can contribute to muscle growth, repair, and overall health, making it a good source of this essential nutrient. The calcium content is also notable, supporting bone health and muscle function, making it a good choice for individuals needing to increase their calcium intake. The low in carbohydrates is also great for the keto diet.

However, the relatively high levels of saturated fat and sodium can be a concern if consumed in excess. High saturated fat intake can raise cholesterol levels, contributing to heart disease, while high sodium intake can raise blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease.

In comparison, the same serving size of Swiss cheese contains around 50mg of sodium, and mozzarella contains about 170mg. Read related: Provolone vs Swiss Cheese.

Therefore, provolone, like other cheeses, should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced, varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Potential Downsides

Like all dairy products, provolone contains lactose, a type of sugar that some people have difficulty digesting. If you’re lactose intolerant, eating provolone could cause digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

Dairy products can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Those with a cow’s milk allergy should avoid provolone and other cheeses made from cow’s milk. Also, If you are pregnant, make sure your provolone is made of pasteurized milk!

Cheese is one of the foods that’s known to contain tyramine, especially if it’s aged. Provolone, while it’s not typically as high in tyramine as more aged cheeses like blue cheese or gouda, may still contain some amount of this compound.

For most people, tyramine isn’t a problem. However, some people might be sensitive to it, and it can trigger migraines in individuals who are prone to them. The same for histamine, if you have histamine intolerance, you should avoid or limit the consumption of provolone.

Lastly, while provolone is suitable for vegetarians, it’s not suitable for vegans or anyone avoiding animal products.

Making Provo-Healthy Dishes

Provolone cheese can be included in a variety of healthy dishes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Healthy Sandwich: Use a slice of provolone in a sandwich made with whole grain bread, lean proteins like turkey or chicken, and lots of veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocados. This will provide a balance of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
  2. Grilled Vegetables with Provolone: Grill a variety of vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant, then top with a slice of provolone just before they’re done grilling so it melts slightly. This dish would be rich in vitamins and fiber from the vegetables and protein from the cheese.
  3. Baked Chicken with Provolone: Top a lean protein like a chicken breast with a slice of provolone and bake until the cheese is bubbly and the chicken is cooked through. Serve with a side of steamed vegetables or a fresh salad.
  4. Stuffed Bell Peppers: Hollow out bell peppers and fill with a mixture of quinoa, tomatoes, onions, and spices, then top with a slice of provolone and bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is melted.
  5. Whole Grain Pizza: Use a whole grain pizza crust, then top with a moderate amount of provolone, lots of veggies like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and perhaps some lean protein like grilled chicken.
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