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All about “Cheese”, a calorie but healthy dish

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Cheese is above all a fermentation of milk activated by lactic acid bacteria. There are hundreds of types around the world and France has at least 400. It is eaten alone or used in the preparation of many dishes.

Characteristics of the cheese:

  • Source of protein;
  • Source of calcium;
  • Source of vitamin A, B2 and B12;
  • Prevention of osteoporosis;
  • Prevention of certain cancers.

What is cheese?

Cheese identity card

  • Type: Dairy product;
  • Origin: Mongolia;
  • Season: All year round;
  • Color: Creamy white;
  • Flavor: Sweet to strong.

Characteristics of cheese

Cheese is a fermentation of milk activated by lactic acid bacteria.

Word from the nutritionist

Cheese is a relatively high-fat food, so limit its consumption. One serving corresponds to 30g of cheese.

Nutritional values

For 100g of cheese:

Nutrients                                                                 Quantities                                                            
Protein 23.5g
Fat 28.2 g
Carbohydrates 0.877 g
Water 42.9g
Fibers 0 g
Vitamin A 250 µg
Vitamin B2 0.356 mg
Vitamin B12 1.28 µg
Calcium 689 mg
Phosphorus 512 mg
Sodium 496 mg


13 benefits of cheese: why eat it?

  1. In general, adequate calcium consumption is linked to better bone health, both during childhood for growth, and in adulthood for remineralization1. The effect of calcium consumption during childhood and adolescence on bone health in adulthood is still a controversial subject. Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal amount of calcium to consume in adulthood to prevent osteoporosis and to reduce the incidence of fractures in the elderly. Some studies show a protective effect of calcium consumption on the risk of fractures, while others have not confirmed such a effect. According to the results of a study of people aged 50 and over, those consuming the largest quantities of cheese saw their risk of hip fracture decrease by 60%, compared to those who did not. Calcium is partly responsible for this effect. Vitamin D, necessary for optimal absorption of calcium, must also be present in sufficient quantity to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but cheese is not a source.
  2. The links between cheese consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease are contradictory. Studies have shown a positive association between cheese consumption and total blood cholesterol levels, the risk of death from ischemic cardiovascular disease and the risk of myocardial infarction. The content of total and saturated fatty acids in cheese could partly explain the observed effects. In contrast, other researchers have observed that consumption of cheese does not increase death rates from cardiovascular disease or the risk of myocardial infarction, and that a diet containing cheese would be less cholesterol-lowering than same diet containing butter instead. Among the targeted active ingredients, note the calcium and lactic acid bacteria (for fermentation) which would exert a protective effect. At the present time, it is therefore impossible to draw conclusions as to the benefits of consuming cheese on the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Note that these studies have been carried out on cheese in general and that the cheeses offered on the market have variable fat contents. The more a cheese has a high fat content, the more it contains saturated fatty acids, known to increase blood cholesterol. Note that these studies have been carried out on cheese in general and that the cheeses offered on the market have variable fat contents. The more a cheese has a high fat content, the more it contains saturated fatty acids, known to increase blood cholesterol. Note that these studies have been carried out on cheese in general and that the cheeses offered on the market have variable fat contents. The more a cheese has a high fat content, the more it contains saturated fatty acids, known to increase blood cholesterol.

  3. Calcium from dairy products has been associated with a decrease in blood pressure, both in animals and in epidemiological studies. The few clinical studies using dairy products (such as cheese) as a source of calcium have demonstrated a hypotensive effect. It is important to note that these studies do not make it possible to attribute the effects obtained specifically to cheese. Researchers still assessed the role of certain cheese peptides on blood pressure in animals. Their results demonstrate that several peptides lower the blood pressure of hypertensive rats. These data have not yet been validated in humans.
  4. It has been observed in human studies that eating cheese prevents tooth decay. Among the proposed mechanisms of action, cheese minerals (mainly calcium and phosphorus) would prevent demineralization of teeth, in addition to contributing to their mineralization. In addition, chewing the cheese activates the secretion of saliva and promotes the reduction of acidity (increase in pH) in the mouth after consumption of sugary foods, thus preventing the onset of cavities. Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Emmental, Gouda and Mozzarella are some examples of cheeses that have demonstrated anticariogenic potential.
  5. Dairy products have been the subject of several studies related to their involvement in the incidence of certain cancers. First of all, the results of studies evaluating the effects of the consumption of cheese or dairy products in general on the risk of breast cancer are contradictory. In addition, despite the numerous studies carried out, no association could be demonstrated between the consumption of cheese and the risk of colorectal cancer. Consumption of dairy products, and sometimes specific consumption of cheese, has often been associated with a higher risk of testicular and prostate cancer. In the case of lung cancer, the consumption of cheese could have a protective effect in non-smokers. Finally,
  6. Dietary calcium may have anticancer effects, including by working with vitamin  D . Calcium could thus inhibit the proliferation of cells and tumors in vitro and in animals. Conversely, high calcium intake could be a risk factor for prostate cancer. Remember that the calcium content varies from one cheese to another, cottage cheese and cream cheese containing little. In addition, cheeses are generally poor in vitamin D.
  7. Conjugated linoleic acids have been the subject of numerous scientific studies. They are found in the meat of ruminants (such as beef) and in dairy products, including cheese. In humans, daily consumption of 112 g (4 oz) of cheddar cheese would increase the amount of CLA in the blood from 19% to 27%. CLA could have a protective effect against certain cancers (in vitro and in animals), including breast and colon cancers. However, the mechanisms involved and the effects on human health have yet to be elucidated. The CLA content of the different types of cheese offered on the market varies from 3 mg / g to 7 mg / g of lipids, depending on the amount of CLA contained in the milk used to make them.
  8. Cheese is essentially a fermentation of milk by lactic acid bacteria. Fermented milk products, such as cheese, have been shown to have immunostimulatory properties. Lactic acid bacteria could also colonize the intestine and thus exert a protective action there. Foods containing lactic acid bacteria should be eaten on a regular basis to reap the full benefits.
  9. Cheddar, mozzarella and cottage are great sources of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues. It helps keep the pH of the blood normal. It is also one of the constituents of cell membranes.
  10. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of vitamin B12, while cheddar and mozzarella cheeses are good sources. Vitamin B12 works together with folic acid (vitamin B9) to make red blood cells in the blood. It also works to maintain nerve cells and the cells that make bone tissue.
  11. Mozzarella and cheddar cheeses are good sources of zinc for women and a source for men, who have higher needs. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. Zinc also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (production), the storage and the release of insulin.

  12. Cottage cheese is a good source of vitamin B2, while cheddar and mozzarella cheeses are a source. Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
  13. Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses are a source of vitamin A, in the form of retinol. Retinol is one of the active forms of vitamin A in the body. This vitamin plays a role in several body functions. It promotes, among other things, the growth of bones and teeth, keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision.

Choosing the right cheese

There is such a palette of flavors and textures in cheeses, that you have to choose it according to your personal taste and its use.

The different varieties

There are hundreds of varieties of cheese around the world. The different types of cheese are classified according to their rind and their paste: soft cheese, cooked cheese, blue-veined cheese, processed cheese, …

Keep well

  • Cool and protected from light: soft cheeses can finish their ripening process in a cool place in the house, refrigeration seriously slowing it down.
  • In the fridge: fresh cheeses (ricotta, feta, bocconcini, cottage cheese, quark, cottage, mascarpone) can only be stored for seven to ten days in an airtight container. Firm and semi-firm pasta can be stored for a few weeks to a few months, preferably in waxed paper or aluminum foil rather than in plastic packaging, which has the disadvantage of preventing them from breathing. Put them in the section reserved for cheeses or in the vegetable drawer, avoiding overlapping so that they can continue to breathe. They can also be wrapped in a cloth soaked in pure water, salt water or wine before placing them in the vegetable drawer. The linen can be soaked in white wine or salt water, depending on the cheeses. Take them out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before serving.
  • In the freezer: with the exception of fresh and soft cheeses, all cheeses can be kept for a few months in the freezer. However, be aware that freezing will dry them out. Cut them into portions of 500 g or less and wrap them in aluminum foil before enclosing them in bags. Defrost in the refrigerator.

Cheese preparation

How to cook it? How to match it?

With the exception of fresh cheeses, which are often made from skimmed or partially skimmed milk, the cheese contains 30% to 40% fat. It is therefore a food that should be consumed sparingly.

  • Feta, bocconcini, ricotta, quark, cottage go perfectly with salads, which they add flavor and enrich with protein.
  • Just before serving, add a pinch of grated cheese to soups and soups.
  • Add it to gratin dishes, soufflés, quiches, pizzas and omelettes. Stuff the pancakes with fromage blanc or grated hard cheese.
  • In a fondue with bread croutons that have been left to dry for a few hours to lighten them slightly. Serve with a green salad.
  • Compliment the risotto with gorgonzola or parmesan.
  • Add Roquefort to a vinaigrette to spice up vegetable salads.
  • Melt semi-soft cheese with milk, flour, nutmeg and paprika. Coat the cooked vegetables with this sauce.
  • Nachos: brown the corn chips covered with grated cheddar cheese in the oven. If desired, garnish with a little hot pepper.
  • Gougères: these small French appetizers are prepared by mixing butter, milk, flour, eggs and gruyère or grated Comté cheese. We form dumplings which we bake in the oven for about twenty minutes, until they are well inflated.
  • Dip: stir in chopped cheese (quark type) chopped chives and garlic, a little mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and serve with carrot sticks, cucumber pieces, snow peas everything and other fresh vegetables.
  • Stuff cucumbers sliced ​​lengthwise and seeded with a mixture of fromage blanc, thin strips of sweet pepper, garlic and basil. Season with salt and pepper and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or two in the refrigerator before serving.
  • In Greece, the feta is served as a starter with melon or cantaloupe. We take alternately a bite of one and the other.
  • The paneer (or panir), which is prepared by adding the juice of a lemon to a mixture of yogurt and milk and draining, can enrich a curry of potatoes and peas. You can also cut it into cubes that you can add to the soup to give it texture, marinate and grill it, or cook it with spinach or Indian mustard greens.
  • Rather than throwing the stale cheeses, they will be cut and melted in a double boiler with white wine or broth. This is a delicious spread.
  • We will refresh a slightly dried goat cheese by cutting it into rings which we will put in a glass jar and sprinkle with savory. Pour olive oil over the cheese so as to cover it, close and put in the refrigerator for a month before eating.

Side effects

Constipe cheese?

Do you think consuming cheese causes constipation? Think again! Researchers interviewed more than 15,000 men and women of all ages to find out whether there is a link between constipation and several variables, including the consumption of certain foods. They found that people who reported being constipated consumed less cheese and cheese-based dishes than those with normal bowel movements. Obviously, several factors come into play in the etiology of constipation, such as physical activity, stress, consumption of fiber and water.

People suffering from hypercholesterolemia must pay particular attention to the food they eat and especially to the quantity and quality of the fat ingested. As cheese is a significant source of fat, it is advisable to choose cheeses containing 20% ​​fat or less. People with high blood cholesterol should consult a dietitian-nutritionist. The latter will adapt the diet according to the state of health.

Most cheeses contain tyramine, a compound also found in other foods such as beer, yeast and deli meats36. A significant interaction may occur when foods containing tyramine are consumed with certain medications prescribed for depression (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). People on this medication should therefore avoid foods rich in tyramine in order to prevent potential hypertensive crises that can be fatal. Most cheeses are rich in tyramine, as well as the dishes made from these cheeses. Cottage, cream, ricotta and havarti cheeses are generally allowed. It is essential to consult a doctor or a dietitian-nutritionist in order to know the foods to avoid while taking such drugs.

Ingestion of foods containing tyramine, like most cheeses, may cause migraines and headaches in some people at higher risk. The mechanisms involved in this effect remain controversial38. One of the hypotheses put forward is a deficiency in monoaminoxidase, an enzyme that normally metabolizes tyramine. Although there is no specific recommendation on this subject, people suffering from migraines after having a meal have an interest in recording the foods consumed and checking whether the cheese is not at fault.

Lactose intolerance

During the transformation of milk into cheese, approximately 2% of the lactose contained in milk is found in cheese1. People with lactase deficiency can therefore consume most cheeses in moderate amounts, depending on individual tolerance. For your information, cottage cheese is the type of cheese containing the most lactose: up to 4 g of lactose for 125 ml (½ cup), or about three times less than a cup of milk.

History of cheese

Appeared in the 12th century, the term “cheese” results from an inversion of two letters from the old French “formage”, derived from the Latin  formaticum  which means “what is done in a form”.
The term “petit-lait”, which designates the serous liquid which remains after the coagulation of milk to make cheese, appeared in the French language in 1552.

As legend has it, the cheese was accidentally discovered by a nomad from the Middle East. In order to sustain himself during the long crossing of the desert, he would have filled his satchel with milk. After a few hours of racing, wanting to quench his thirst, he would have realized that the milk had separated to give on the one hand a clear liquid and on the other hand a solid white mass. The bag, which was made with the stomach (abomasum) of a young ruminant, contained residues of renin, a coagulating enzyme which has the effect of curdling milk. Add to that the warmth and the movement imprinted on the bag by the gallops of the horse and we have all the elements necessary for making cheese. Curious, the brave nomad will taste and declare whey drinkable, and edible cheese.

World production

We will not be surprised, France is the country where the most cheese is consumed per person, per year (23.2 kilos), followed by Italy (20.6 kilos), Sweden (16.6 kg), the Netherlands (16.6 kg), the United States (14 kg), Germany (12.8 kg) and Canada (11.6 kg). Like butter and milk, cheese is very little consumed in Asia. In India, we particularly appreciate the paneer. Produced locally in small quantities, this white curd, very fresh, does not keep and is used to prepare ready meals.

For their part, our distant ancestors in Mongolia would have discovered that it was enough to put in fermented earthenware containers or wicker baskets the fermented drinks that are yogurt, kumiss and kefir, to obtain a sour cheese just as nourishing.

These two processes are at the origin of all the cheeses we know today.

The Sumerians, the Egyptians and the Hebrews knew the rudimentary techniques allowing to make cheese, while the Greeks of Antiquity had very probably developed the ancestor of what is current feta.

However, it was the Romans who, with their usual practical sense, refined their procedures. They knew how to prepare the curd and process it in various ways so as to obtain cheeses with distinct flavors and characteristics. They will disseminate their techniques throughout the Empire and, over the centuries, a wide variety of cheeses will appear in various regions of Europe.

In the Nordic countries, where grass – and therefore milk – is scarce in winter, hard cheeses (emmenthal in Switzerland, Gouda in Holland) will be produced, which will keep longer, while, in Mediterranean countries, where milk is plentiful practically throughout the year, soft cheeses will be developed.

In the Middle Ages, the monasteries became an important place of cheese production, so that the majority of the types we know today are the result of the creative and industrious activity of the monks.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, cheese making gradually shifted from farm to factory, and today most of the products available on the market are produced on a large scale in high-tech factories, where the use of acids, sweeteners, flavorings, anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers and preservatives has become the norm. These industrial processes have necessarily led to a standardization of flavors and textures to the detriment, very often, of the organoleptic characteristics that were traditionally attached to a particular terroir.

It is therefore not surprising that, in the second half of the 20th century, a revival of artisanal methods manifested itself in Western Europe with the aim of regaining the quality of local products and guaranteeing it by attribution appellations of controlled origin (AOC) with strict production rules. In North America, the movement will be slower, but it is constantly gaining momentum with the creation, in recent decades, of many artisan cheeses.

Raw milk, pasteurized milk

In North America, almost all cheeses are made with pasteurized milk. Only a few master cheese makers, mostly Quebecers, work with raw milk. In Canada, raw milk cheeses must be aged for at least two months, a period that is considered necessary for the destruction of pathogenic organisms. In Europe, if pasteurization tends to be generalized for products sold in supermarkets, local cheeses are usually made with raw milk, especially those that have an AOC. The ripening period can be less than two months.

Whey (or whey)

Our nomadic ancestors did not throw away whey which they considered a refreshing drink and to which the Greeks, who will call it “healing water”, will lend medicinal properties. It was used and is still used to make certain cheeses, for example Corsican brocciu, which also benefits from an AOC, and Swiss serac. It can also be reincorporated into the curd, as is the case for ricotta, or accompany it, as for bocconcini.

However, most of the whey is thrown away, despite the fact that the industry has developed techniques to dehydrate it and make various additives that are used in the composition of food products and supplements, animal feed and of cosmetics.

Whey has a great nutritional richness. Its proteins are precursors of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. This is why some people would like to be able to easily find fresh and minimally processed whey, that is to say raw or heated to below 64 ° C, temperature above which its proteins would be modified and lose their properties.

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