Dietary aspects of cheese

The Castelmagno DOP cheese on display at the market in Alba - Piedmont


The Castelmagno DOP cheese on display at the market in Alba – Piedmont

Cheese should be considered as food that is particularly suitable to meet the needs of adolescent growth and as food for protecting adults.

Composition

The food and nutritional principles that provide cheese these benefits are represented by the presence of large quantities of high biological protein values and a phosphorus-calcium-vitamin D complex.

Cheese is a concentrate of protein and mineral salts.

Moreover, cheese fat is easy to digest due to its low melting point.

Nutritional values

The nutritional value of cheese doesn’t exactly reflect that of milk due to the numerous transformations that the mammary secretion undergoes during the cheese-making process and ripening.

On the other hand, it is also true that the lactic bacteria and the yeasts found in cheese cause the synthesis of new vitamins that belong to group B.

Compared with milk, cheese proteins denote a lower biological value (roughly 5% less) due to the loss of some of them remaining in the serum.

Digestibility

The protein digestibility coefficient of cheese is quite high (roughly 97%) as well as that of the fat contained in it (roughly 95%); these coefficients are higher in long-maturing cheeses and in processed cheeses than in fresh, fermented and fatty cheeses.

Fats

The abundance of free fatty acids in some cheeses has antibacterial action against harmful microorganisms in the intestines.

Salts and other elements

There is a greater concentration of mineral salts in cheese than in milk, except for potassium which is lower.

Like milk, cheese too contains calcium and phosphorus according to the proportion considered best suited for a human being’s requirement, while in most other foods calcium is almost always deficient with respect to phosphorus.

Energy value

The energy value of cheese is mainly related to its fat content; on average 2 hg of cheese consumed per day are needed to produce 300 mg. of cholesterol.

Cheese consumption is ideal in cases requiring a good energy supply; inversely one can choose cheeses with less calories (lean cheeses) but richer in protein and mineral salts.

When and how much to consume

Essentially, cheese is the most suitable food to supplement a diet that is low in animal proteins and calcium.

The Mediterranean habit of eating cheese at the end of a meal, is linked to the stimulating effect that this food carries out on digestive juices.

The following is the recommended daily amount of cheese in one’s diet:

  • children between 2 and 9 years old: 9 g
  • children between 10 and 12 years old: 40 g
  • teenagers between 13 and 15 years old: 50 g
  • teenagers between 16 and 20 years old: 80 g
  • adults: 40 g
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