Cheese vs. Butter – What’s the Difference?

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One of the happiest accidents to ever occur is the invention of cheese. It is believed that it may have been accidentally discovered around 4000 years ago by ancient Egyptians when one fateful night, an Egyptian left milk overnight in a container made from animals’ stomachs. In the morning, cheese came into being, and today it is loved by people worldwide!

On the other hand, butter originated in 8000 B.C. in ancient Africa when a herder was on a journey and had some milk stored in sheepskin container, and it got jostled with warm sheep milk and curdled into something quite delicious. Both cheese and butter are loved and consumed by a majority of the population worldwide. So without further delay, let us better understand the difference between the two.       

What is Cheese?

Cheese is a dairy product; it is made from milk and has a remarkable taste. Too tired to prepare a dish? Take a slice of cheese and toast, and microwave them. Viola! It’s simple yet special in its wonderful ways. It is made when milk casein (a protein present in milk) is coagulated. An interesting piece of information is that cheese has more than 1000 types! Wow. Some common types of cheese are Feta, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gouda, Havarti and Ricotta.

The texture of cheese plays a vital role in determining the taste of cheese. For example, a more pronounced taste is found in hard cheese, and a mild taste is found in soft cheese. However, this is just a general guideline and not applicable to all cheeses. Ricotta, for instance, is the softest of cheeses and is part of most Italian recipes. 

Nutritional Information

According to USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), 100 grams of cheese contains:

  • 402 calories
  • 25 g protein
  • 3 g total carbohydrate
  • 33 g total fat (saturated of which is 21 g)
  • 621 mg sodium
  • 98 mg potassium
  • 105 mg cholesterol
  • 5 g sugar

Benefits and Uses

  1. Cheese consists of fat-soluble vitamins, namely A, E, and K, and they have important functions in the body as long as they are not eaten more than the recommended amount.
  2. Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against free radical damage. Vitamin A, as we know, is essential for vision and many other processes taking place in the body.
  3. Cheese also consists of B complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and folate.
  4. Pantothenic acid is essential for making glucose and fatty acids from other metabolites in the body and manufacturing steroid hormones and brain chemicals. Riboflavin is involved in releasing energy from food and act as coenzymes in energy production. A sustainable amount of these is beneficial for regulating essential processes in the body. Folate contributes to good health by participating in cell division, protein and DNA manufacture, and red blood cell production in the bone marrow.
  5. Cheese is an instant mood enhancer. Depending on different peoples’ tastes, there is a right kind of cheese for everybody!
  6. Mozzarella sticks (made by breading and frying cheese) taste heavenly and are served with yummy dips at many restaurants.
  7. Cheese can be folded inside chicken to make chicken enchiladas.
  8. Grilled cheese is easily made, has a very rich taste, and boosts one’s mood right after the first bite!
  9. Last but most definitely not the least, cheese is grated and set on top of pizzas!

What is Butter?

Butter is another dairy product made by separating milk solids from milk liquids, that is, milk fats and buttermilk. Then, milk fats are mixed with casein present in milk and water (and sometimes salt). In the end, we obtain a butter stick. The milk used to make butter can be fermented or unfermented. Normally, the butter we buy from grocery stores is made from unfermented milk.

There are four main types of butter; cultured butter, clarified butter and ghee, salted and unsalted butter, and vegan butter. Limiting sodium intake is very important if one is hypertensive and is on a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). For such people, unsalted butter is the top choice. For people who like salty foods because of the flavor, salted butter is a great option. As the name suggests, vegan butter is best for vegans, and for people who like tangy and buttery flavor together, cultured butter is a good choice.

Nutritional Information

According to USDA, 100 grams of butter contains:

  • 717 calories
  • 81 g fat (of which 50 g is saturated)
  • 9 g protein
  • 1 g total carbohydrate
  • 219 mg cholesterol
  • 827 mg sodium
  • 26 mg potassium
  • 1 g sugar

Benefits and Uses

  1. Butter is a good source of vitamins A, E, and K.
  2. Vitamin A helps improve vision and prevents night blindness. Vitamin E has cytoprotective (protection against gastric mucosal injury) properties, is good for skin, prevents fatty acid oxidation, and protects cells from damage.
  3. Important minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and fluoride are also found in butter.
  4. Potassium and Magnesium are essential for regulating fluid/electrolyte balance, muscle contraction, regulating blood pressure, and helping prevent bone and joint problems and kidney stones.
  5. Butter is mainly used for baking, cooking, and greasing.
  6. Most people like to accessorize their dishes with melted butter to add extra flavor.
  7. Good bacteria present in cultured butter help in better digestion.
  8. Butter is known to play a role in treating fungal infections.
  9. It is one of the most likable spreads used in breakfast.
  10. It is also mixed in Mac n Cheese for a richer flavor.
  11. Caramelized onions are made by simmering butter with onions and brown sugar.  

So What’s the Difference Between Cheese and Butter?

To summarize everything we’ve covered so far, here are some key differences between cheese and butter:

  • Cheese has more protein than butter.
  • Butter has more trans and saturated fats than cheese.
  • Butter can help prevent/treat fungal infections.
  • Cheese consumed in moderation can help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, hypertension, and tooth decay.
  • Cheese contains calcium which is important for bone and tooth health, whereas butter does not contain calcium.