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Provolone vs. Swiss cheese — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Provolone
vs
Swiss cheese

Summary

Swiss cheese is higher in calories, total fats, cholesterol, protein, most minerals, and vitamins A, E, and B12. Comparatively, provolone is higher in carbs and sodium. It is also richer in iron, potassium, and vitamins D, B2, and B5. 

Provolone is cheaper.

Introduction

History and origin

The first difference between Swiss cheese and provolone is their country of origin and production year. Swiss cheese originated in the areas of Emmental, Switzerland, in the 15th century. On the other hand, Provolone cheese originated in Vesuvius, Italy, in the 19th century.

Difference in cheesemaking

Swiss cheese and provolone are made from cow's milk. The difference is in their processing and aging, among other things.

Swiss cheese preparation is done by fermenting cow's milk with different types of bacteria. These bacteria produce different types of compounds that give a specific texture and flavoring to the cheese. Acetate and propionic acid are the most important byproducts produced by the bacteria. They give the cheese a sweet and nutty flavor. In addition to these compounds, CO2 gas is produced by the above-mentioned bacteria. The CO2 gives the "blind cheese" texture to Swiss cheese. However, these holes are considered imperfections, and grade A Swiss cheese has non or minimal amounts of these holes. Swiss cheese is a medium-hard yellow cheese.

On the other hand, provolone cheese is also made from cow's milk, but it is made by coagulating and heating it with acid. Provolone cheese has a smooth texture and mild flavor.

Provolone cheese is a semi-hard cheese that can have a nutty and salty flavor or Picante.

Culinary world

Swiss cheese is a melting cheese that is suitable for making different types of dishes. The unaged Swiss cheese can be used in sandwiches, pasta, and sauces. The aged Swiss cheese can be combined with dried fruits and nuts and served with earthy-flavored wines. One of the most common foods that use Swiss cheese are mashed potatoes, omelets, shepherd's pie, and pizza.

Provolone cheese is also a melting cheese. It has similar culinary usage. Provolone can be used in sandwiches, paninis, pizzas, omelets, and mashed potatoes. In addition to those, they can be an alternative to mozzarella or even a combination with mozzarella to increase the flavor and texture.

In short, both kinds of cheese are very good sandwich cheeses when cold. In addition to that, they are melting cheeses that can be used in different types of cooking. The preference comes with the flavor that each one provides.

Pricing

Provolone cheese is cheaper compared to Swiss cheese. The average market price for 1lb of provolone cheese is around 12$ compared to the same amount of Swiss cheese, which would cost around 18$.

Shelf-life

After being exposed to air, Swiss cheese can stay in the fridge for about three to four weeks if it is refrigerated properly. In comparison, properly stored provolone cheese can stay refrigerated for two to three weeks.

In this article, we will compare the difference between Swiss cheese and provolone cheese based on their nutritional data, health impacts, weight loss and diet usage, and downsides.

Nutritional data comparison

Glycemic index

The glycemic index of both kinds of cheese is the same. They are classified as low glycemic index foods. The glycemic index of Swiss cheese and provolone is 27.

Calories

Both Swiss cheese and provolone are high in calories, with Swiss cheese being higher. Swiss cheese provides 393 calories compared to provolone which provides 351 calories. Both are based on 100g of each cheese.

Carbs

Provolone contains more carbs than Swiss cheese. However, they are not high in carbs, containing less than 3g of carbs per 100g serving.

Protein

Swiss cheese and provolone are rich in proteins, with Swiss cheese being richer. In addition to that, their amino acid profile is highly versatile and very rich in essential amino acids. 100g of Swiss cheese satisfies nearly 100% of the daily required essential amino acid requirement. When it comes to provolone, a bit more than 100g is needed to satisfy the daily requirements of these essential amino acids.

Fats

Swiss cheese is higher in total fats. 100g of Swiss cheese provides nearly 50% of the daily requirements of fats, compared to provolone which only provides 40%. They also have the same ratio of saturated and unsaturated fats: nearly 67% of fats are saturated.

One of the most important aspects of the fat profile is the cholesterol content. Swiss cheese has a higher cholesterol content than provolone. 100g of Swiss cheese contains 50% of the required daily value of cholesterol.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +74.4%
Equal in Saturated Fat - 18.227
Equal in Monounsaturated Fat - 8.046
68% 29% 3%
Saturated Fat: 17.078 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7.393 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.769 g
66% 29% 5%
Saturated Fat: 18.227 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 8.046 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.341 g
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +74.4%
Equal in Saturated Fat - 18.227
Equal in Monounsaturated Fat - 8.046

Minerals

Swiss cheese is richer in zinc, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and copper. On the other hand, provolone cheese is richer in iron and potassium. 

Provolone is over 4.5 times higher in sodium compared to Swiss cheese. Provolone is considered to be very high in sodium and covers 38% of the daily recommended value per 100g serving.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Iron +300%
Contains more Potassium +91.7%
Contains more Calcium +17.7%
Contains more Magnesium +17.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +15.7%
Contains less Sodium -78.7%
Contains more Zinc +35.3%
Contains more Copper +80.8%
Contains more Manganese +160%
Contains more Selenium +106.9%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 227% 20% 20% 213% 13% 115% 89% 9% 2% 80%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 267% 5% 24% 246% 7% 25% 120% 16% 4% 164%
Contains more Iron +300%
Contains more Potassium +91.7%
Contains more Calcium +17.7%
Contains more Magnesium +17.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +15.7%
Contains less Sodium -78.7%
Contains more Zinc +35.3%
Contains more Copper +80.8%
Contains more Manganese +160%
Contains more Selenium +106.9%

Vitamins

Swiss cheese is richer in vitamins A, E, and B12. 

Swiss cheese contains twice the amount of vitamin B12 than provolone and satisfies 128% of the daily recommended value. Therefore, people with vitamin B12 deficiency would benefit more from consuming Swiss cheese over provolone.

On the other hand, provolone cheese is richer in vitamins D, B2, and B5. However, none of these satisfy the RDV of their respective vitamins.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +72.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +143.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +34.8%
Contains more Vitamin K +57.1%
Contains more Vitamin A +19%
Contains more Vitamin E +160.9%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +109.6%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.302
Equal in Vitamin B6 - 0.071
Equal in Folate - 10
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 53% 5% 15% 0% 5% 75% 3% 29% 17% 8% 183% 6%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 63% 12% 0% 0% 3% 70% 2% 22% 17% 8% 383% 4%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +72.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +143.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +34.8%
Contains more Vitamin K +57.1%
Contains more Vitamin A +19%
Contains more Vitamin E +160.9%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +109.6%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.302
Equal in Vitamin B6 - 0.071
Equal in Folate - 10

Weight loss and diets

Both Swiss cheese and provolone are high in calories, total fats, and cholesterol. However, they are also high in proteins. In moderation, these cheeses shouldn't cause a caloric excess. A sandwich made from Swiss cheese or provolone is a better alternative than using processed cheese.

Vegan

Swiss cheese and provolone are derivatives of cow's milk, and they are unsuitable for vegans. Although alternative cheeses can be found that are plant-based, they are not similar to Swiss cheese or provolone.

Keto diet

Swiss cheese and provolone are low in carbs and glycemic index, and they can be consumed by people who follow the keto diet. However, they are high in calories, and provolone is high in sodium. It is important to take into consideration these two factors.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Moderate dairy consumption, especially cheese consumption, has been demonstrated to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Swiss cheese and provolone are higher in their fat content; thus, it is important to consider that factor. In addition to the fat content, provolone is high in sodium. This should also be a factor to take into consideration for hypertensive patients (1).

In patients with high blood pressure, moderate consumption of calcium and phosphorus-rich dairy products, such as Swiss cheese and provolone, has been shown to reduce hypertension (2).

It should be noted that people taking MAO inhibitors (particularly antidepressants) may experience a hypertensive crisis when eating cheeses, including provolone and Swiss cheese, as they contain tyramine (3).

Diabetes

Moderate consumption of both Swiss cheese and provolone has been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition to that, these kinds of cheese are low in glycemic index, which means that no insulin spikes and fast absorption of glucose will occur (4, 5).

Cancer

Dairy consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of colorectal and bladder cancer (6).

Gastrointestinal health

Section reviewed by gastroenterologist Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan

Fermented cheese, such as Swiss cheese, has a positive effect on intestinal health. It promotes the development of a healthy microbiome, which in turn may reduce intestinal inflammation and promote healthy digestion (7).

Bone Health

Swiss cheese and provolone are high in calcium and phosphorus, the two components found in great amounts in the bones. The body’s 99% calcium and 80% phosphorus are stored in the bones. They are also high in protein, another important component required to maintain healthy bones (8, 9).

According to observational studies, dairy products, particularly fermented dairy products like Swiss cheese, are associated with a lower risk of hip fracture (10).

Zinc & Health

Vegetarians, pregnant and lactating people, and people with gastrointestinal disease and alcohol use disorder are at a higher risk of developing zinc deficiency, which may manifest with a disturbed sense of taste and smell, delayed wound healing, adverse birth outcomes, and impaired cognitive and physiological functions (11).

Downsides

Lactose intolerance and Milk allergy

Section reviewed by gastroenterologist Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan

Lactose intolerance prevents people from digesting lactose, which is present in both kinds of cheese. Although, because of medical advancements, this problem can now be overcome by supplying pills containing lactase enzymes, which break down lactose. This, however, does not help all lactose-intolerant individuals.

People with cow’s milk allergy should also avoid these cheeses. The allergy symptoms may manifest as non-specific allergic reactions or be primarily digestive (diarrhea, cramps, blood stools).

Cardiovascular health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Overconsumption of cheese with high fat and sodium content may have harmful consequences for cardiovascular health and hypertension. If eaten in excess, Swiss cheese and provolone cheese increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.

Neurologic

The regular use of dairy products, such as cheese, in high amounts has been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, mainly for men (12).

Urinary tract health

Individuals with urinary crystals or stones, predominantly calcium oxalate crystals, must take precautions and limit Swiss cheese and provolone consumption. High-calcium foods are a risk factor for dietary hypercalciuria (high calcium in the urine) and stone formation. This precaution is unnecessary if the hypercalciuria is not dietetic (13).

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26786887/
  2. Relations between dairy product intake and blood pressure
  3. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-dairy-research/article/abs/evaluation-of-biogenic-amines-and-microbial-counts-throughout-the-ripening-of-goat-cheeses-from-pasteurized-and-raw-milk/592CB5FA7AEDE5E81A9ACC4DF2B7BB82
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23945722/
  5. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/76/1/274S/4689498
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22081693/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6545342/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22081690
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22139564/ 
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8794967/ 
  11. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ 
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24894826/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566930/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan

Infographic

Provolone vs Swiss cheese infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Carbs +48.6%
Contains more Other +58.1%
Contains more Fats +16.4%
Equal in Protein - 26.96
Equal in Water - 37.63
26% 27% 2% 41% 5%
Protein: 25.58 g
Fats: 26.62 g
Carbs: 2.14 g
Water: 40.95 g
Other: 4.71 g
27% 31% 38% 3%
Protein: 26.96 g
Fats: 30.99 g
Carbs: 1.44 g
Water: 37.63 g
Other: 2.98 g
Contains more Carbs +48.6%
Contains more Other +58.1%
Contains more Fats +16.4%
Equal in Protein - 26.96
Equal in Water - 37.63

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Provolone Swiss cheese
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Provolone Swiss cheese Opinion
Net carbs 2.14g 1.44g Provolone
Protein 25.58g 26.96g Swiss cheese
Fats 26.62g 30.99g Swiss cheese
Carbs 2.14g 1.44g Provolone
Calories 351kcal 393kcal Swiss cheese
Sugar 0.56g 0g Swiss cheese
Calcium 756mg 890mg Swiss cheese
Iron 0.52mg 0.13mg Provolone
Magnesium 28mg 33mg Swiss cheese
Phosphorus 496mg 574mg Swiss cheese
Potassium 138mg 72mg Provolone
Sodium 876mg 187mg Swiss cheese
Zinc 3.23mg 4.37mg Swiss cheese
Copper 0.026mg 0.047mg Swiss cheese
Manganese 0.01mg 0.026mg Swiss cheese
Selenium 14.5µg 30µg Swiss cheese
Vitamin A 880IU 1047IU Swiss cheese
Vitamin A RAE 236µg 288µg Swiss cheese
Vitamin E 0.23mg 0.6mg Swiss cheese
Vitamin D 20IU 0IU Provolone
Vitamin D 0.5µg 0µg Provolone
Vitamin B1 0.019mg 0.011mg Provolone
Vitamin B2 0.321mg 0.302mg Provolone
Vitamin B3 0.156mg 0.064mg Provolone
Vitamin B5 0.476mg 0.353mg Provolone
Vitamin B6 0.073mg 0.071mg Provolone
Folate 10µg 10µg
Vitamin B12 1.46µg 3.06µg Swiss cheese
Vitamin K 2.2µg 1.4µg Provolone
Tryptophan 0.345mg 0.401mg Swiss cheese
Threonine 0.982mg 1.038mg Swiss cheese
Isoleucine 1.091mg 1.537mg Swiss cheese
Leucine 2.297mg 2.959mg Swiss cheese
Lysine 2.646mg 2.585mg Provolone
Methionine 0.686mg 0.784mg Swiss cheese
Phenylalanine 1.287mg 1.662mg Swiss cheese
Valine 1.64mg 2.139mg Swiss cheese
Histidine 1.115mg 1.065mg Provolone
Cholesterol 69mg 93mg Provolone
Trans Fat 0.987g Provolone
Saturated Fat 17.078g 18.227g Provolone
Omega-3 - DPA 0g 0.018g Swiss cheese
Monounsaturated Fat 7.393g 8.046g Swiss cheese
Polyunsaturated fat 0.769g 1.341g Swiss cheese
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.007g Swiss cheese
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 0.734g Swiss cheese
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0.002g Swiss cheese
Omega-3 - ALA 0.125g Swiss cheese
Omega-3 - Eicosatrienoic acid 0.003g Swiss cheese
Omega-6 - Dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid 0.032g Swiss cheese

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Provolone Swiss cheese
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
33%
Provolone
48%
Swiss cheese
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
78%
Provolone
87%
Swiss cheese

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Swiss cheese
Swiss cheese is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.56g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Swiss cheese
Swiss cheese contains less Sodium (difference - 689mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Swiss cheese
Swiss cheese is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Provolone
Provolone is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 24mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Provolone
Provolone is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 1.149g)
Which food is cheaper?
Provolone
Provolone is cheaper (difference - $1.1)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Provolone
Provolone is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (27)

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Provolone - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170850/nutrients
  2. Swiss cheese - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171251/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.