Cheese: which type of cheese?

This should be the first question you ask yourself when you speak about cheese.
Italy alone produces about 600 different cheeses and 47 of these are included in the PDO/PGI or TSG lists.

What about cheese classification?
The classification of cheeses is based on various characteristics of the cheese itself, such as animal milk, seasoning time, fat and water content.

On the dining table – at home or at the restaurant – and in your recipes cheese can appear in several ways:
– as a condiment, the classic parmesan cheese on pasta;
– as an appetizer, cheese cubes served as an appetizer;
– as a “dessert “, mixed cheeses served with honey, fruit jam or pickled fruit;
– as an ingredient in pies, in the classic “salads” or more simply on pizza.

In any case, cheese is a food and as such it is to be considered part of a balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet.

Do you know following the Mediterranean diet means to obtain the calories that you need every day from 55-60 % carbohydrates, 10-15 % protein and 25-30 % fat?

All cheeses can contribute to your own recipes and menus with proteins and fats: cheese proteins have an high biological value, as a source of special amino acids that your body is not able to produce by itself;the fat content of cheese, mostly saturated, goes from about 20% on fresh cheeses up to 36 % on aged cheeses.

Precisely because of the fat content,cheeses are often considered enemies of a balanced diet: actually as for any other food – if not abused – it is important to stay healthy.
An healthy adult may eat a piece of cheese – or 50 g of aged cheese or 100 g of fresh cheese – during 3-4 lunches or dinners a week.
When counting the cheese in your diet, make sure to consider all the cheese you eat: even the 5-7 g of grated parmesan you put on pasta.

When you prepare a recipe, cheese can also be used to flavor without adding salt.
Excessing sodium in the diet increases the risk of hypertension.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its new guidelines states that an adult should take a maximum of 2 g of sodium per day. Remember that even in the amount of salt it does not count just what you add to the recipes but also the “hidden” salt: 50 g of pecorino cheese already contain 45% of the maximum amount of sodium that you should take in a day. This means for a balanced diet, you should reduce the salt you add directly to recipes and learn how to choose the ingredients to give flavour to your meals: cheese is a great opportunity to increase taste.

Cheese is also an excellent source of calcium in a highly bio-available way. The cheese contribution – as part of an healthy and balanced diet – is therefore useful to assure the right amount of calcium: eating healthy with taste with the Mediterranean diet for sure means also eating cheese, in the right amount.

Thanks to Francesca Antonucci,