The Spanish Cheese That Has More Protein Than Meat

Eating protein at every meal can help fill you up while fueling your muscles and building key hormones and enzymes. Although your protein needs vary between 10% and 35% of your daily calories, most carnivores get enough protein from complete sources like meat, fish, and eggs. Vegans have to be a little creative with protein sources that aren't meat to ensure they are getting an adequate amount of the nine essential amino acids that the body can't make.

Vegetarians who eat dairy can get sufficient protein from cheese and milk products. Cheese has enough of the nine essential amino acids to make it a complete protein. You might assume that meat or chicken has more protein than cheese because you're eating the muscle of the animal. Yet some types of cheese can provide more protein than meat ounce-for-ounce. While an ounce of strip steak provides 7.6 grams of protein, Manchego cheese has a little more protein, coming in at 8 grams per ounce.

How Manchego cheese's protein compares with meat

Manchego cheese also slightly beats out salmon in the protein column, but an ounce of cooked chicken breast provides 9 grams of protein. Of course, you'll have to consider serving size. An ounce of meat, chicken, or fish might seem miniscule because you might typically eat between 4 and 6 ounces of those protein sources. Eating 6 ounces of Manchego will put some serious calories on your daily tally with a total of 780 calories. Manchego cheese also has 4 times the fat of steak and 12 times more fat than chicken. Most of the fat in Manchego cheese comes from saturated fat which can increase your LDL cholesterol.

Manchego cheese provides nutrients that are lacking in meat, chicken, or fish. You won't find calcium in meat, chicken, or fish, but Manchego cheese offers 200 milligrams of calcium in just an ounce. Don't turn to Manchego cheese if you're trying to watch your sodium, however. Manchego cheese has 10 times more sodium than these other protein sources.

Health benefits of Manchego cheese

While Manchego cheese might not be an ounce-for-ounce substitute for your favorite animal protein source, this cheese might have some benefits for your gut health. Manchego cheese is made from raw sheep's milk rather than pasteurized milk. According to a 2014 article in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, cheeses made from raw milk such as Manchego have a richer diversity of bacteria that can fight off harmful bacteria in your gut.

Manchego and other Spanish cheeses might also be good for your blood pressure. A 2006 article in European Food Research and Technology looked at how the milk and processing of Manchego, Roncal, Cabrales, and other cheeses affects angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitory activity. ACE inhibitors are found in medications to reduce the constriction of blood vessels. Although Cabrales cheese had the highest ACE-inhibitory effect, all the cheeses had 41 specific peptides that showed this ACE-inhibitory activity.