The Benefits of Parmesan Cheese

If you love adding Parmesan cheese to your favorite pastas and Italian food, you'll be happy and confident to know that Parmesan cheese benefits you body in a number of ways. So don't be shy, add more Parmesan cheese to your food, and reap the benefits that Parmesan cheese has to offer.

Parmesan cheese is packed with essential nutrients. (Image: Eugene Mymrin/Moment/GettyImages)

Parmesan cheese confers many benefits, as it's packed with nutrients including calcium, vitamins and other minerals. It also promotes bone health. With benefits like this, and low lactose levels, some people think it's fair to consider Parmesan cheese a little-known superfood.

Parmesan Cheese Nutrition

Parmesan cheese is packed with essential nutrients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 28 grams (one ounce) of Parmesan cheese contains:

Parmesan cheese also contains large amounts of various different trace nutrients which provide considerable health benefits. In addition to everything listed above, a quality Parmesan will provide the anyone who eats it with a good amount of vitamins A, B6, and B12. It also has many trace metals like copper and zinc.

These nutrients benefit your overall health considerably, and provide essential building blocks for a whole plethora of important physiological processes in your body. By providing these important resources, Parmesan cheese allows the body to better perform many of its most important functions. Parmesan can really help you out.

Parmesan Cheese and Bone Health

Calcium plays a crucial part in bone health and growth. However, the calcium in Parmesan cheese isn't the only bone-builder. Phosphorus also plays a major part in bone development and vitality.

According to a 2014 study published in Nutrition Journal, people who consumed larger dosages of calcium and phosphorus produced significantly denser bone mass in certain bones of the body. The study found that the femur — the longest bone in your body — is one of the bones that had increased mass.

Another study published in Nutrition Journal in 2015 also showed the positive effects phosphorus has on bone health. In this study, the researchers found that higher intakes of phosphorus helped reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis by 45 percent.

According to the USDA, single servings of aged, hard cheeses, like Parmesan, have less than one gram of lactose. By comparison, other milk-based products often contain 11-13 grams of lactose per serving. Parmesan has low lactose levels.

Parmesan is an aged, hard cheese. According to September 2015 research published in Nutrients, single servings of aged, hard cheeses, like Parmesan, have less than one gram of lactose. By comparison, other milk-based products often contain 11-13 grams of lactose per serving.

As a result, if you are lactose intolerant and find yourself craving something cheesy, you may find that you can generally tolerate Parmesan cheese added to your favorite meals.

Parmesan Impostors and Fillers

The FDA has a specific definition of what makes Parmesan cheese in America. The FDA states that Parmesan cheese needs to:

  • grate readily
  • age for 10 months
  • contain no less than 32% milk fat
  • contain no more than 32% moisture
  • contain certain cultures and enzymes
  • have a specific amount of salt

It may come as a surprise to you, but the Parmesan cheese made in America is not genuine Parmesan cheese. Authentic Parmesan cheese is made in a small area in Italy using only three ingredients: milk, enzymes, and salt. Cheeses made in America contain ingredients that are not allowed in authentic Parmesan cheese.

For example, the FDA also allows for Parmesan cheese made in America to contain a percentage of cellulose, which is safe-to-consume wood pulp. If you purchase grated Parmesan cheese, some percentage of the contents is just wood pulp, which is used to help keep the cheese from caking.

The big question is how much is in it? According to the American Council on Science and Health, many cheese makers may use far more than is needed and may use alternate cheeses even if the label suggests it is 100 percent Parmesan.

Wood pulp and dishonest labels degrade the quality and dosage of the nutrients you get from Parmesan cheese. In other words, the impressive amount of protein and other nutrients found in Parmesan is not as high in grated Parmesan, when compared to pure Parmesan. The solution? Purchase whole blocks of Parmesan and grate it yourself at home.

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