Is Cheese healthy?

For some, cheese is the most beautiful food on earth, for others it is synonym of getting fat or a devil that leads to heart disease issues ! Let's try to get a bit of clarity on this topic.

A standard process

Let's start by understanding that producing cheese usually required only 2 ingredients : Milk & Rennet (it is so simple that you can do a "fresh cheese" at your place with some fresh fut fat milk and replacing rennet with some lemon juice ).

Photo by Mihail Macri on Unsplash

Cheese in its standard definition (I'm not talking here of any form of vegan cheese or industrial, plastic or pasteurised cheeses) is derived from milk by coagulation of the milk protein called "casein". It includes proteins and fat from milk, usually from cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. Enzymes of rennet or other enzymes are used for the coagulation. Then the liquid part (Whey) is removed and the solid part (Curd) is moulded into its final shape, it ages from a few weeks to a few years, et voila! The cheeses we like are that simple, no chemistry included, no funky adjustment and no pasteurisation when possible.

So what is in the good cheese ?

The Macros (from-to)

  • Protein : 10%-30%
  • Fat : 4% -30%
  • Carb : 2% - 6%
  • The rest is made of water and micro-nutrients.

Here are a good rules of thumb to know what type of cheese has more fat, protein or carbs.

--> Cheese with the less moisture have the largest protein content (parmesan, cheddar, gouda, appenzeller,...) and are usually the one with the most fat as well ( cheddar is 33% of fat, parmesan about 28% and blue cheese 29%)

--> The longer cheeses are aged, the less carbohydrates (Brie, blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan). So for people who are lactose intolerant, go for the oldest cheese you can find (parmesan for example has almost no lactose).

Now, the elephant in the room, what type of fat is in the cheese? Good or Bad? 

As you may know, in most of cheese it's a saturated fat which has a bad rap. Since the 1950’s it was believed to raise bad cholesterol level, but French Paradox that is well known casted a strong doubt and showed that it's was not the case in France. Study showed that for equivalent fat consumption, the impact of saturated fat on the cholesterol is much less important with milk and non-pasteurised cheese than from butter for example, showing that the type and most importantly the quality of the food is what matters most and that a cookie-cutter rule does not apply.

Recent studies from 2015 from  Hooper L, et al. –“ Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease”. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, demonstrated that across 15 randomized control trials and 59,000 participants , there was ‘[…]no statistical significant effect in reducing saturated fat in regard to heard attach strokes or all cause of death.  Source : https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-saturated-fat

The Micros nutrients

Cheeses are a great source of calcium, and are high in Vit-A, B-12, alongside with zinc, phosphorus and riboflavin. Obviously the cheese coming from small artisanal farm and from grass or pastor fed cows deliver the best quality of nutrient and also contains Omega-3 and Vit-K2.

Photo by Gaëtan Werp on Unsplash

In conclusion 

The Cheeses we like are  pretty simple and natural product derived from the milk without any complex chemical or industrial process. They are created by people passionate about delivering on the quality and sharing about their Terroir.

Cheeses are awesome because they are a great source of protein, calcium, Vit-A, B-12 and 12 different types of probiotics. Even if their fat content may be high, don’t forget that’s it’s mostly Carbs (sugar in form of Soda, white sugar, rice, bread,…) that makes you develop the love handles (refer to : Keto diet). And on top of that, artisanal cheeses are 100% gluten free!

Obviously, cheeses can turn to something bad if overeaten and/or of bad quality; and like everything in life, a reasonable consumption of high-quality cheeses in a balanced diet will not cause any issue, but consuming 300g of plastic-like cheese everyday will definitely be reason for troubles.

So select the best cheese shop you can find nearby your place, discuss with the team the different cheese families and how to appreciate the cheese depending on the moment and you’ll be able to discover literally 1,000 of cheeses from all over the world…Say cheese!

 

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