Raw milk cheese is made from cow, goat or sheep milk that has not been pasteurized to kill such harmful bacteria as salmonella, escherichia coli and listeria perhaps present. While the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, disapproves the use of raw milk and its products due to the risk of serious infectious diseases, its proponents can vouch for its health benefits. It may be best to consult a doctor before eating raw milk cheese, especially if you are vulnerable to infections due to your age, pregnancy or other conditions.
U.S. News & World Report reported in March 2009 that consumption of raw milk and cheese made from it may significantly lower the symptoms of allergic reactions such as asthma, hay fever and eczema. Another study published in the May 2007 edition of the journal "Clinical and Experimental Allergy" also states that children consuming raw milk have a reduced risk of asthma and hay fever. However, the researchers do not recommend raw milk products to prevent allergies due to the high risk of infections.
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Raw milk and its cheese also contain some healthy bacteria which colonize the digestive tract and compete with undesirable pathogens for nutrients. This prevents the growth of the pathogens and reduces the risk of certain infections, according to the Department of Environmental Studies at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. However, individuals with reduced immunity may become susceptible to bacteria in raw milk and its cheese.
The enzymes in raw milk help in the digestion of the sugars, fats and minerals in the milk, according to a research report published in the July 2008 edition of the journal "Appetite." Pasteurization destroys these enzymes and makes it difficult to digest milk, thereby leading to lactose intolerance which can lead to abdominal bloating, diarrhea and cramps.
The Sunday Times of London, England, reported in 2007 that raw milk contains 10 percent more B vitamins and 25 percent more vitamin C. The heat used during pasteurization may destroy these nutrients along with the flavor and color of the real milk. Thus, cheese made from raw milk may be more nutritious than cheese made from processed milk. It is, however, important to weigh the pros and cons associated with raw milk products such as cheese before switching to raw milk.
- "U.S. News Health"; Raw Milk Is Gaining Fans, but the Science Says It's Dangerous; Kerry Hannon; March 2009
- Macalester College Environmental Studies Department: Weighing Benefits and Risks of Raw Milk
- "Appetite"; Food Fears and Raw-milk Cheese; H.G. West; July 2008
- "The Sunday Times"; In The Raw; Peta Bee; October 2007