The benefits of Cheese consumption and the Mediterranean Diet

October 28, 2012

The consumption of cheese on a daily basis provides the valuable and necessary quantities of calcium which are necessary for the protection of the bones and prevention of osteoporosis. This is one of the many reasons cheese, and especially white cheese, is part of the Mediterranean Diet. (Med diet in short). White cheese is a basic component of the Mediterranean diet.

Cheese is a natural, complete and healthy food which apart from the fact that is delicious it can in parallel play a significant role in a healthy and well balanced diet like the Med diet. The role of cheese is basic for several systems of our body. In addition cheese is one of our valuable allies in our continuous efforts, throughout our life, for healthy and strong bones and teeth.

Nutritional Components of cheese

The cheese components have interesting particularities. The main nutritional components of cheese are its vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and calcium, which have multidimensional energizing effects in our body.

Despite of the nutritional benefits of cheese, it should be consumed carefully and in moderation. There are many cheeses which are rich in saturated fats, cholesterol and salt. For this reason and depending on the nutritional needs and particularities of each person’s health, different types and varieties of cheeses should be used as there are cheeses which are low fat and low in salt.

In the Mediterranean diet pyramid white cheese is a frequent component while the more mature and aged cheese is listed in the once a week category.

Proteins: Proteins are the key component on which the composition and functioning of our body is based. Cheeses contain high quality proteins and amino acids which are needed by the human body.

Vitamin A:  Vitamin A has a vital role in our sight, the bone development and maintenance of our skeleton, multiplication of our body cells and in our immune system which protects us against infections, cancer and other diseases.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is necessary for our health and the best operation of our nerve system, the production of red blood cells and the composition of our DNA.

Vitamin D: It has been proven that Vitamin D has many beneficial effects and actions for the human body. Daily research reveals new and positive benefits that vitamin D has for our health and wellbeing and certainly there are more to be discovered. So far now we know that Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium by the intestine, for the metabolism of phosphorous and calcium used for the bone formation, maintenance and reform. Recent research has shown that vitamin D has beneficial effects in the fight against cancer, the fortification of our immune system and helps in the protection and maintenance of our cardiovascular system.

Calcium: Cheese consumption in our diet is vital for our daily needs in calcium. Cheese is a rich source of calcium which is so important in our daily activities and many functions of our body. In the different phases of our life we need calcium and we should always have it in our diet in satisfactory levels. Not taking calcium may have unpredictable and serious effects in our health.

For the kids and teenagers the daily intake of calcium is of critical importance. They are at an important and decisive phase of their lives which is characterized by fast growth and bone and skeleton formation. In case that the supply of calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D in the body is insufficient the consequences may be such that will affect the rest of their lives. If they, kids, eat daily cheese as a snack, or as part of their meals they can cover the daily needs of calcium by their body. The various types of cheeses contain plenty of calcium and the consumption of even small quantities of cheese they can provide significant amounts of calcium.

Cheese, Teeth and dental caries

The very fact that cheese is our strong ally for the formation and protection of our teeth has been known for years. However in 1999 a special team from the British Nutrition Foundation, BNF, has conducted a special study about the oral health and its relation to the Diet and other special factors examining the multidimensional effects of cheese on dental health. What was derived from this study was, among others, that the chances of dental caries are reduced for people who finish their meal with cheese. This means that cheese at the end of each meal probably prevents teeth decay. The reasons as to why cheese may act beneficially and protect our teeth was found to be related to the fact that cheese increases saliva in our mouth thus contributing to the neutralization of acids in the mouth thus reducing the negative effects on the teeth. In addition due to the fact that cheese contains calcium and phosphorous it helps in the replacement if non organic elements in the teeth enamel. Finally, cheese prevents any bacteria on the teeth to convert sugar to harmful acids which attack and gradually decay the teeth enamel.

Cheese and Osteoporosis

Cheese in addition to its other nutritional properties has a significant role in the fight against and prevention of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the source of many health problems not only to women but to elderly men as well.   The prevention of Osteoporosis begins from the childhood age.  The daily intake of satisfactory levels of calcium and phosphorous though cheese or other dairy products and regular exercise, sets the right conditions for the prevention of Osteoporosis. As part of our Mediterranean diet, both of these conditions set the foundations for a long and healthy life. Osteoporosis weakens the bones and makes them more fragile. Bone fractures are very common to osteoporosis patients and this has a high financial cost to the patients, their family and society in general. The daily consumption of white cheese which is rich in calcium prevents osteoporosis.

As we have seen cheese not only enriches our culinary dishes with unique and inspiring tastes but acts as our ally against various diseases as well. There is a great variety of cheeses which enables even people who have cholesterol or are on a low salt diet to have cheese in their diet.

With the right knowledge about cheese and the right choices we can have a healthy and balanced diet which will enable us to have a healthy body and mind. Such a balanced diet is the Mediterranean diet.

Andrea Aurelio
About the author

Andrea Aurelio adopted the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean way of living after evaluating a series of diets and realizing that the Mediterranean diet is a proven diet and the best way to adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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