Is Halloumi Healthy? 3 dieticians give their point of view

Go back ten years and halloumi was still a niche food choice in the UK. Ask for it at your local supermarket and you’ll be greeted with blank stares from perplexed clerks. It was before Nando and the popularity of the Mediterranean diet turned us all into cheese connoisseurs. This summer, your local Maccies will also have halloumi on hand, when it introduces halloumi chips as part of its Taste of Spain and Cyprus menu.

Yes, it’s fair to say that protein-rich cheese has infiltrated the UK and is now a staple of our diets, but the question remains: is halloumi healthy? To answer this, we consulted three dieticians who explained the health benefits of halloumi, its downsides and some potential alternatives. But, for those who have yet to taste halloumi, let’s start from the beginning.

What is Halloumi?

“Halloumi is a traditional cheese from Cyprus, which has been produced there for hundreds of years and is gaining popularity in the UK,” says Sasha Watkins, dietician and co-founder of Field Doctor.It is made from a mix of goat, sheep or cow milk and has a firm and chewy texture. It can be grilled, fried or baked and once heated it becomes crunchy but crunchy on the outside. “

Nutritional benefits of Halloumi

“On most packages of halloumi,” says Ellie Bain, nutritionist and registered dietician at Gousto, “the recommended serving size is only 30g (as well as nutritional value), which is good to keep in mind when cooking.”

Since the recommended serving is 30g, we have also reaped the nutritional benefits of a 30g serving. Note the amount of protein, salt and saturated fat.

  • Calories – 94
  • Fat – 7.4 g
  • Saturated – 5.1 g (26% of the recommended daily intake)
  • Carbohydrates – 0.2 g
  • Sugars – 0.2 g
  • Protein – 6.6 g
  • Salt – 0.9 (15% of the recommended daily intake)

    Cristina SandinGetty Images

    Health Benefits of Halloumi

    From packing a protein punch to helping you fight fatigue, there are tons of reasons to start (or continue) eating halloumi. “Halloumi is rich in protein (to help you maintain and grow your lean muscle mass), contains calcium (for healthy bones and teeth), phosphorus (for bone health), zinc (for cognitive, immune and of fertility), iodine (for thyroid and cognitive function) and vitamin A (to support immunity, vision and skin), “says Watkins. “It is also a source of several B vitamins – folic acid, B12 and B2 – which are known to support psychological function and fight fatigue and selenium, which is important for immune function and helps fight oxidative stress.” .

    Not to mention, for all the vegetarians out there, halloumi’s firm texture makes it an excellent meat substitute and high in protein.

    Reasons not to eat Halloumi

    While there are no healthy or unhealthy foods, there are definitely some downsides to eating halloumi. You should pay special attention to how much you eat and how you are cooking it.

    “Halloumi is very high in salt and a 70g serving contains 2.1g, which is a third of the recommended daily allowance of 6g,” says Watkins. “People with high blood pressure should pay particular attention to their salt intake. It is also high in saturated fat (12g per 70g), which has been linked to ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. ‘halloumi since it adds a lot of oil – if fried – will increase the calorie content. I love a small portion grilled and added to a mixed salad of roasted vegetables, quinoa, parsley and lemon juice. “

    “It’s usually the form in which people consume halloumi, and the sauces they have with it, that can make it a less healthy snack or meal,” adds Tamara Willner, nutritionist for the healthy eating plan advocated by NHS Second Nature. “For example, halloumi burgers or halloumi fries are usually fried and served with refined carbohydrates (pastas or burger buns). Also, often sweet chilli sauces or jams are served with halloumi and these contain a lot of sugar.”

    How to cook Halloumi

    Halloumi can be grilled, fried, or baked, but however you cook it, the preparation process remains the same.

    • Start by cutting the halloumi into 5mm-1cm thick slices.
    • If frying, place the halloumi in a dry skillet over medium heat. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until the halloumi is golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side.
    • Alternatively, you can brush with a drizzle of olive oil and cook in a pan or on the barbecue. Your times will remain the same.
    • If you are cooking, preheat the oven to 200 ° C (180 ° fan), then arrange the slices in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

      Alternatives to Halloumi

      As Willner says, “Halloumi can be part of a healthy diet and it’s important to eat the foods we like so we don’t feel deprived.” However, if you’ve had your fill of halloumi and would like to mix things up, try snacking on these alternatives.

      it is healthy halloumi

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      Feta

      “Feta is another great source of protein and has a very strong flavor, so you may find that a small amount is enough to make your meal more satisfying,” says Willner.

      It also has “less than half the salt and saturated fat of halloumi,” Watkins adds.

      it is healthy halloumi

      Peter Hermes FurianGetty Images

      Chickpeas, Tofu or Tempeh

      “If you want another source of protein other than meat, consider swapping halloumi for chickpeas, tofu or tempeh,” says Willner.

      “Marinated tofu is also a good high-protein substitute if you’re looking for a chewy texture,” adds Watkins.

      Reduced fat or reduced salt halloumi

      If you have a penchant for halloumi, but it doesn’t fit your macros, you might want to consider a reduced-fat or reduced-salt version of the cheese. A low-fat alternative typically reduces fat by about 30%.

      it is healthy halloumi

      Bozena_FulawkaGetty Images

      Mozzarella cheese

      “Mozzarella is another great exchange,” says Bain. “When melted it becomes deliciously gooey and creamy, but also low in fat and salt, with 18.6g per 100g of protein.”

      it is healthy halloumi

      Dario EgidiGetty Images

      Ricotta cheese

      “While the high calorie count in halloumi is a particular concern, cottage cheese contains half the calories and is lower in salt,” says Bain. “Even if the flavor is much more subtle.”

      it is healthy halloumi

      haoliangGetty Images

      Halloumi, Chickpea and Lime Salad

      Food 2, Preparation time: 5 min, Cooking time: 15 min

      • 507 calories
      • 22 g of protein
      • 26 g of carbohydrates
      • 31 g of fat (13 g saturated)

        ingredients

        • 100 g of green beans, peeled
        • Chickpeas
        • 1 lime, zest and juice
        • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
        • 1 red chilli, sliced
        • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
        • rocket
        • 100 g of cherry tomatoes
        • chopped parsley
        • 140 g of sliced ​​halloumi

          Method

          1. Cook the beans in a pot of boiling water until tender, adding the chickpeas for the last minute of cooking.
          2. For the dressing, blend the lime juice and zest with half the oil and the chilli. Drain the chickpeas and beans and dress them with the sauce. Pour boiling water over the onion, let it soften for five minutes, then rinse. Add the rocket, parsley, tomatoes and onion to the bean bowl and mix everything together.
          3. At the last minute, fry the halloumi until golden brown.
            1. Daniel Davis
              Daniel Davies is a Men’s Health UK staff writer who has been reporting on sports science, fitness and culture for various publications for the past five years.

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