Who does not love a bagel with cream cheese in the morning? Have you tried Neufchatel instead? These two kinds of cheese are often used interchangeably, but do you know their differences?
In this article, we will explore what Neufchatel and cream cheese have in common and how they are different!
What Is Neufchatel Cheese?
Neufchatel is a soft, ripened cow’s milk cheese from the Neufchatel-en-Bray region of France. This cheese usually ripens for 6 to 10 weeks at a time. However, the American Neufchatel contains milk and cream, resembling cream cheese.
This cheese looks very similar to the Camembert, as it has a white, dry rind covering it. The flavor is salty, sharp, and slightly sweet. You will usually find Neufchatel in a heart shape, but it may also come in a box or as a log.
American Neufchatel tends to be lower in fat and can be a low-fat alternative to cream cheese. You can also find Neufchatel sold in the United States under the name of farmer’s cheese. Neufchatel is often used as a spread as well, with bread, crackers, and bagels.
One package (85 g) of Neufchatel has the following nutritional content (*):
- 215 calories
- 53.6 g water
- 7.78 g protein
- 19.4 g fat
- 1.24 g carbohydrate
- 3.05 g fiber
- 2.71 g sugar
- 99.4 mg calcium
- 8.5 mg magnesium
- 117 mg phosphorus
- 129 mg potassium
- 284 mg sodium
- 11.9 µg folate
- 205 µg vitamin A
Is Neufchatel Healthy?
Cheese can be healthy for your diet because it provides calcium, protein, and other vitamins and minerals. However, not all cheese is equally nutritious, and you should be aware of the risks and benefits. Neufchatel tends to be a high-fat cheese, but it does provide some advantages.
Neufchatel provides 19.4 grams of fat per package, which is high but lower than other types of cheese. This cheese contains less fat than regular cream cheese, so you can use it in its place in certain situations. You can use it as a spread for bread, crackers, and more, just like you would cream cheese.
This cheese is also a good source of calcium, which is an essential mineral. Our bodies need calcium for bone mineralization and to keep our bones strong. Calcium also aids in neural messaging in the body.
Unlike other soft types of cheese, Neufchatel contains fewer calories, with 71.7 calories per ounce. This means that you can safely use it in the morning without much problem. Still, keep in mind that this cheese adds up calories and fat when using large amounts.
Neufchatel also provides phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Phosphorus is an important mineral in maintaining healthy cells and carrying out metabolic processes. Potassium is not as easy to come by in food as people think, but it is an essential mineral for neural conduction and cell balance.
While sodium is not always a good thing when it comes to cheese, Neufchatel has only a little, making it healthier than its other counterparts. To get the most benefits, choose a traditional French Neufchatel, which is aged longer and has less fat. The American Neufchatel is a good substitute for cream cheese but contains more sugar and fat.
What Is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a sweet, soft, fresh cheese from cow’s milk and cream. Usually, cream cheese contains at least 33% fat from milk with no more than 55% moisture and a pH between 4.4 and 4.9. Unlike Neufchatel, cream cheese is not matured at all.
This type of soft cheese comes from the United States, and it first appeared in cookbooks around the 18th century. Philadelphia and New York became the main producers of cream cheese nationally. You may recognize the famous cream cheese brand Philadelphia from Kraft, which is sold across the globe.
Cream cheese is traditionally a breakfast food, used on bagels, bread, crackers, and even smoked salmon. This cheese is also a key ingredient in desserts, including cheesecake and red velvet cake frosting. Some savory recipes, like mashed potatoes or sushi rolls, also contain cream cheese.
One package (85 g) of cayenne pepper has the following nutritional content (*):
- 298 calories
- 44.7 g water
- 5.23 g protein
- 29.3 g fat
- 4.69 g carbohydrate
- 0 g fiber
- 3.2 g sugar
- 82.4 mg calcium
- 7.65 mg magnesium
- 91 mg phosphorus
- 112 mg potassium
- 267 mg sodium
- 7.65 µg folate
- 262 µg vitamin A
Is Cream Cheese Healthy?
Cream cheese is a staple of the American diet, but this type of cheese can be high in fat and sugar. For the most part, this cheese is healthy to consume, and a better choice than other types of cheese. Still, you should be careful not to overdo it.
One package of cream cheese will give you 29.3 grams of fat, which is a bit higher than other cheese. It has lower fat content than fatty cheese, like provolone or fontina. You can also find low-fat alternatives for cream cheese.
Like Neufchatel, cream cheese is a good source of calcium with 82.4 mg per package. As you now know, calcium is essential for healthy and strong bones. You can also get more calcium from cream cheese than from other types of cheese.
Comparatively, cream cheese also contains phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Phosphorus and potassium are very important minerals that act as electrolytes in our bodies.
While sodium can also be beneficial, you should be aware that cream cheese can have a high sodium content, which can be harmful in the long term.
In contrast to Neufchatel, one ounce of cream cheese gives you 99.2 calories. This is a higher amount than Neufchatel, but still lower than some other cheeses. You can consume cream cheese in moderation without much trouble.
Cream cheese is a relatively sweet cheese, so you should be mindful of the sugar content. This type of cheese is part of many desserts, dips, and sauces because of this, but it should be used in moderation. Watch out for added salt, fat, and calories when you use cream cheese.
What Are The Key Differences Between Neufchatel and Cream Cheese?
One of the most prominent differences between Neufchatel and cream cheese is their origin. Neufchatel is originally from the Neufchatel-en-Bray region in France. Cream cheese is an American invention, from the Philadelphia and New York City areas.
Another difference is the ingredients that either of these types of cheese contains. French Neufchatel contains only cow’s milk. On the other hand, American Neufchatel and cream cheese contain both milk and cream.
In terms of consistency, these two kinds of cheese are not the same. Neufchatel is usually sold in a heart shape, and it is a bit grainy covered with an aged crust. Cream cheese is sold as a solid block, but it is very soft and mushy.
Perhaps the difference that most people see with these two types of cheese is the fat content. Neufchatel contains only about 20 to 23% fat in total. Cream cheese contains about 33% fat from milk and is 55% moisture.
These two kinds of cheese are also not made in the same way. Neufchatel cheese is aged for about 10 weeks, which results in a more powerful flavor and less fat. Cream cheese is fresh, which means it is not aged at all.
You should also take into account that these two types of cheese do not smell the same. Neufchatel is a very strong-smelling cheese, almost like a Camembert. Cream cheese can have an aroma when spices or herbs are added, but it has a neutral aroma otherwise.
Finally, Neufchatel and cream cheese are used in different ways. For the most part, Neufchatel is used as a spread with bread, crackers, or bagels. Cream cheese is also used as a spread but can be added to sauces, potatoes, desserts, and more.
|Main Differences||Neufchatel||Cream Cheese|
|Origin||Neufchâtel-en-Bray, France||Philadelphia and New York City, USA|
|Production||This cheese is made from cow’s milk, which is then matured for 6 to 10 weeks until ripened.||This cheese is made from cow’s milk and cream. It is consumed fresh but is pasteurized before packaging.|
|Color||White, light beige||White|
|Taste and Smell||Neufchatel tastes creamy, tangy, and sharp. The aroma is strong, a bit pungent, and nutty.||Cream cheese tastes sweet, salty, and slightly tart. The aroma is subtle but can vary depending on any added herbs or spices.|
|Uses||Neufchatel is served as a spread that people eat with crackers, bread, or bagels.||Cream cheese is served as a spread too for bread, bagels, or crackers. It is also used in desserts, sauces, and potatoes.|
|Cost||$1.50 to $12.99||$0.89 to $5.99|
|Calories per 100ml||253 calories||350 calories|
Is Neufchatel or Cream Cheese Healthier?
Both Neufchatel and cream cheese tend to be healthy options to use for breakfast and other spreads. However, Neufchatel does contain fewer calories and less fat. Cream cheese may also have more sugar added.
To remain healthy, go with Neufchatel whenever possible. Be careful, though, the American Neufchatel version may also be high in calories and fat, so choose the French one when possible. If none of these are available, you are safe to choose cream cheese.
Keep in mind too that cream cheese is useful in different situations, while Neufchatel is not. You can use cream cheese in desserts, frosting, and sauces, while Neufchatel tends to be too strong. Choose the one you want based on nutrition facts, but also your cooking needs.
Next time you go to the grocery aisle, you will never have to wonder what type of cheese to get again. Pick either Neufchatel or cream cheese from the dairy aisle and use them as you like. However, you can choose either based on the flavor profile and the dish you are preparing.
*image by philipimage/depositphotos