By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
Cheese is an ancient food that origins predate recorded history.Did the caveman eat cheese? Dairy did not even play a factor in the human diet until early Europeans began domesticating cattle for about 10,000 years ago, and cave man would not be aware of enjoying a piece of cheese in their diet.
Cheese is a dairy product prepared from pressed milk curds. There are un-ripened fresh cheeses and ripened old cheeses of more than 300 varieties.
Cheese contains a host of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium vitamin A, riboflavin, and B12 among others. Cheese contains additional nutrients like zinc and biotin. Zinc has several functions in the body: It aids in tissue growth and repair, prevents and treats macular degeneration, protects your skin, and helps keep your nails strong. Both zinc and biotin are also important for hair health.
The actual breakdown of macro-nutrients depends on the type. One ounce of cream cheese spread contains 84 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbohydrates and 2 grams of protein. One ounce of cheddar cheese has 115 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrate and 7 grams of protein.
If you need calcium dairy products, cheese would be the best choice in terms of bioavailability. Calcium plays a primary role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and is also important for blood clotting, wound healing and maintaining normal blood pressure.
Always try to pair calcium-rich foods with a source of vitamin D as vitamin D helps the small intestine to absorb calcium. Two ounces of many kinds of cheese can contain 40-50% of the daily calcium requirement. Cheeses are unfortunately very salty and may not be recommended to consume regularly by heart patients, hypertensive cases and other diseases where excessive salt is not recommended. New research from the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) suggests that cheese is unnecessarily salty, with Britain's most popular cheese – cheddar – containing more salt than a packet of crisps per portion.
CASH say cheese is a big part of the UK diet, bought by over 98% of households and is the third biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet, after bread and bacon.
Katharine Jenner from the CASH group told today presenter Justin Webb that "we don't say at any point don't eat cheese… but we are asking cheese manufacturers to reduce salt in cheese by, say, 10%."
People used salt to create cheese as early as 5,000 years ago when nomads in central Asia and the the Middle East discovered milk curdled by gastric juice enzymes within animal's stomachs. The nomads preserved the naturally soured and curdled milk by draining off the water whey and salting the concentrated curds – (Www.Food & Nutrition- Jacqueline Marcus)
Cheese contains saturated fats and was not recommended for those have high lipid levels especially for heart patients. New research however, is showing that saturated fat has a minimum impact on heart disease, and not a risk factor as much as the sugars.
However, read the labels and chose the healthiest choices, and they are lower in fat and sodium. Cheese has high calories and may not be recommended for those on restricted diets. To reduce you may grate or sprinkle harder cheeses over your dishes adding texture and flavour too.
Today, cheese is manufactured from cow and goat milk. It is a great source of protein and these proteins can slow down the process of absorption of carbohydrates eaten at the same time, preventing glucose spikes in your blood. Eating lasagna is a good example; diabetics can enjoy consuming with ease. People having Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Coeliac disease may not be able to digest cheese and may also trigger the conditions to activity. Some migraine suffers may trigger a bout with eating cheese.
As there is a demand for cheese in Sri Lanka, local dairy produces seem to make cheese locally. 'Kotmale' is the largest manufacturer of Cheese in Sri Lanka. `Kotmale` cheese which is available in the form of natural and processed cheese has a wide portfolio of processed, spiced processed and spread cheese in its processed cheese range and Swiss cheese, Ball cheese, Feta, Cottage, Pannier and Mozzarella in the natural cheese range.
The saying goes when we hit forty, women only have about four taste buds left: one for vodka, one for wine, one for cheese, and one for chocolate.- Gina Barreca What happens to the hole when cheese is gone – think about it.
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