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10 health benefits of Parmesan cheese that make it a guilt-free snack

Parmesan Cheese may help to regulate blood pressure and contribute to weight loss. Read on to find out the benefits of Parmesan cheese.
Pieces of cheese on a plate
Parmesan cheese has a lot of nutritional benefits and can be consumed on a regular basis. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 11 Dec 2023, 02:42 pm IST
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With its distinct flavour and a delicious crumbly texture, Parmesan cheese is an absolute must-have ingredient in pastas, pizzas, soups and salads. If you are also a cheese-lover and are wondering if Parmesan cheese actually makes your dish healthy, you are in luck! We tell you some of the the health benefits of Parmesan cheese.

From calcium to blood pressure regulation, Parmesan cheese comes with a host of health advantages, according to a 2017 study published in Food Technology and Biotechnology. Health Shots got in touch with dietitian Garima Goyal to understand how this wonder cheese is made as well as the benefits of Parmesan cheese.

How is Parmesan cheese made?

The process of making Parmesan cheese is meticulous and has been followed since generations. “Cow’s milk, that is high in quality, is brought from different places in Italy, and it is heated and curdled. However, this curdling is done using natural whey cultures and calf rennet. The curd that is formed gets cut into granules next,” explains Goyal.

A complete pizza with cheese
Pizzas, pastas and salads can be sprinkled with Parmesan cheese as this will increase their nutritional content. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

The next stage is called curd settling, where the curd sits down at the bottom, of the vat. Once the whey is taken out, this curd is put into moulds. After this, the cheese wheels are put into a brine solution and left there for a few weeks. This gives the cheese a slaty flavour and also helps it to stay longer. “The cheese is stored in controlled environments. The longer ageing imparts a complex flavour and a granular texture as the cheese crystallizes,” says Goyal.

What makes Parmesan cheese healthy?

The many health benefits of Parmesan cheese make it a guilt-free snack worth adding to your diet.

1. Rich in calcium

Parmesan is a notable source of calcium, crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Adequate calcium intake also supports nerve function and muscle health.

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2. Protein content

It is a protein-rich food, aiding in tissue repair, muscle building and overall body maintenance. This is beneficial for individuals seeking protein sources, especially those with vegetarian or low-meat diets.

Also read: 5 reasons to add protein-packed cottage cheese to your diet

3. Vitamin A

Parmesan contains vitamin A, essential for maintaining healthy skin, vision, and immune function. Vitamin A also plays a role in cell growth and differentiation.

4. Vitamin B12 boost

The cheese provides vitamin B12, important for the production of red blood cells and neurological function. This is particularly relevant for individuals with dietary restrictions limiting their B12 intake.

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5. Phosphorus source

Parmesan is a good source of phosphorus, which is vital for bone health and contributes to various physiological processes, including energy production.

6. Low lactose

Compared to some other dairy products, Parmesan has lower lactose levels, making it a potentially more digestible option for individuals with lactose sensitivity.

7. Umami flavour enhancement

The umami flavour of Parmesan can enhance the taste of various dishes, encouraging the use of smaller amounts to achieve a satisfying taste, which can be helpful for those watching their calorie intake.

8. Antioxidant properties

An aged cheese variety like Parmesan may have antioxidant properties, potentially contributing to overall health by combating oxidative stress.

9. Portion control benefits

Due to its strong flavour, Parmesan can be used sparingly to add taste to dishes, promoting portion control and potentially aiding weight management efforts.

10. Calcium absorption

The combination of calcium and phosphorus in Parmesan may enhance calcium absorption, supporting its role in bone health more effectively than some other calcium sources.

What are the side effects of Parmesan cheese?

The world knows that too much cheese is never good! While Parmesan cheese offers several health benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential downsides:

1. High in saturated fat

Parmesan is relatively high in saturated fat. When consumed in excess, it may contribute to heart health issues. Moderation is key, especially for individuals with cardiovascular concerns.

2. Caloric density

It’s easy to consume a significant number of calories with even a small amount of Parmesan. This can be a concern for those watching their calorie intake.

Woman with strong body
Parmesan cheese helps in calcium absorption. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Sodium content

Parmesan is often salty, and excessive sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure. Individuals on a low-sodium diet should be cautious about their cheese consumption.

4. Lactose content

While Parmesan has lower lactose compared to some other cheese varieties, it still contains some. People with lactose intolerance should be mindful of their tolerance levels.

5. Potential allergies

Some people may be allergic to components in dairy products, including Parmesan. Allergic reactions can range from mild discomfort to severe symptoms, requiring medical attention.

6. Environmental impact

The production of Parmesan, like many cheese types, has environmental considerations. The dairy industry’s impact on resources such as water and land should be taken into account.

Parmesan is a dairy product. So if you are following a vegan diet, you won’t be able enjoy its benefits.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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