Versatile and delicious, relished by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike–paneer or cottage cheese is an indispensable part of Indian cuisines.
Mild in flavour, as compared to aged cheeses, it is also low in calories when extracted from low-fat milk.
But is paneer a healthy choice? That is the question we’re debating today. You see, 250 grams of low-fat paneer offers: 180 calories, 7 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat along with calcium, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, and folate.
That said, paneer is not always the right choice for everyone. Much like every other food, it has its own pros and cons. So, without further ado–let’s decode the good, bad, and ugly of the evergreen paneer.
Here’s everything that oh-so-good about paneer
Since it doesn’t undergo any ageing or ripening process, it is a fresh and odourless cheese. And yes, you can easily make some at home. In fact, you can use it for appetizers, main course, and even dessert! Case in point, sandesh–the quintessential Bengali mithai many can’t get enough of.
Yes, it tastes amazing. And when made with low-fat milk, it is a good option for vegetarians to stock up on protein. In fact, it is also great for weight watchers as both protein and calcium (which paneer is rich in) are associated with weight loss and gaining muscle mass.
But here are a few bad things about paneer to consider too!
For those who are intolerant to milk, paneer can cause a lot of problems. Since paneer is a fresh cheese, its lactose content does not decrease as much as aged cheese. This makes digesting regular cheese easier than fresh paneer. Even if you have a weak or sensitive digestive system, paneer can cause bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and stomach pain.
The protein content, mainly casein and whey, can also be bothersome for those who are allergic to it. Many times these allergies go undiagnosed. So be careful before indulging in paneer or notice how your gut, mood, and body feel post eating it.
Yes, there is an ugly side to paneer too
Is the paneer you are eating coming from grass-fed cows or grain-fed cows and buffalos? You must be wondering why would that make a difference to your health in any way. Right?
You see, earlier cattle were allowed to graze grass and roam around in vast areas of the farm or village. Today that freedom is not affordable because of modernization and inflation rates. Cattle is restricted in smaller areas and fattened up with grain-based feeds–usually made of soya, corn, wheat, and very little dried grass. To maximize growth, the cows are given drugs like antibiotics and growth hormones which you also consume every time you drink milk, eat yogurt, and relish paneer.
Making sure where your paneer comes from and how its source, the cattle, is treated is very important. The hormones in your dairy products can severely impact your health.
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So relish responsibly!