After the last few weeks of festive feasting it's no wonder our thoughts have turned towards healthy eating. Often getting bad press for its higher fat, calorie and salt content, remember cheese is incredibly nutritious as well as delicious and a little can go a long way. So as you hit the gym or start that new pilates class, here are some reasons to keep cheese on the menu this January.

1. Great for teeth

The high calcium content of cheese makes it an excellent food for your teeth. Not only does the calcium help build strong teeth but its low lactose (sugar) levels, particularly in aged cheeses such as Comté and Le Gruyère, will make your dentist smile. Eating cheese can reduce levels of tooth decay as it stimulates the production of saliva making the mouth more alkaline and creating a protective film around teeth. 

2. Great for bones

Rich in calcium and vitamin B, cheese is great for the formation and strengthening of bones and cartilage, and can decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin B promotes the proper absorption and distribution of calcium so cheese delivers the complete nutritional package for strong bones. It also promotes cell metabolism and renewal, important for making your skin glow at this dark and cold time of the year.

3. Great for muscles

Cheese is a prime source of protein for muscle growth, particularly for those following a vegetarian diet. It tastes delicious and it is exceptionally versatile in cooking, for snacking or eating on a cheeseboard.

4. Great for the immune system and digestion

Zinc and probiotic "good" bacteria, particularly in those cheeses made from raw (unpasteurised) milk, provide a great boost for your immune system against winter germs and promote gut health by increasing the variety of bacteria in your digestive system. Cheese also contains CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which has been identified as a key constituent for combating cancer. Levels are higher in cheeses made from milk from grass-fed cows.

5. Great for sleep

Cheese contains tryptophan, an amino acid which promotes sleep and decreases anxiety. For much the same effect as a mug of warm milk, how about a late night nibble of your favourite cheese to help you snooze soundly? And just in case you are worried about crazy "cheese dreams", a study by the British Cheese Board found no evidence that cheese will give you nightmares.

As with most dietary choices, moderation is the key. A fine piece of artisan cheese can be the perfect treat to tickle your taste buds and benefit your health - just ask us to cut it a little smaller this January.