“Humans eat not purely for nutrition but also for pleasure…Cheese gives us great nutrition, essential amino acids, and proteins for our brain and body, but it also has an emotional and pleasure response, connecting to innate neural pathways…Cheese may just be one of the most perfect foods to capture the nutritional-emotional duality.” Thomas C. Morrel, MD, Neurologist.
Is cheese really good for you?
Artisanal cheese, real cheese, is actually incredibly good for us! It is not only beneficial for our bodies physically but also mentally/emotionally. (Artisanal cheese means it was made by hand using a natural process, and not made industrially.)
For starters, cheese is very nutritious providing proteins, vitamins, minerals, sugars, and trace elements. It has calcium, fat, phosphorus and significant portions of vitamins B12, B2 and A. Nutrients are “predigested”’ by bacteria and enzymes during cheesemaking and aging, which means break down of proteins, sugars, and fats has begun before our digestive systems get to work. It takes less effort for a person’s body to process cheese than it does with many other comparably nutritious foods. The three highest per capita cheese-consuming countries (Italy, France, and Greece) have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and some of the longest-lived populations. Cheese can elevate good cholesterol (HDL).
Milk has beneficial fats that work as antioxidants and also provide fat soluble vitamins which are good for our organs. The fats in cheese are broken down into more easily absorbed and beneficial fatty acids, in a process called lipolysis. Some of these fatty acids allow us to metabolize the fats from other foods.
Cheese made from the milk of grassfed cows (animals) is an excellent source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is an exceedingly beneficial nutrient, considered a cancer fighter, a fat-reducing fat, and an antioxidant.
Worried about lactose? Cheeses that are aged have very little if any residual lactose. Practically all the lactose in the milk has been transformed to lactic acid by the action of the bacteria in the culture during cheesemaking and aging. The lactose has already been digested for you by the bacteria.
One last fascinating fact about real cheese is that it has mood-elevating properties. There are comparatively high concentrations of tyrosine, a chemical building block of many significant neurotransmitters, including several of the brain’s “feel good” substances. Our bodies do not make tyrosine so it has to be ingested; this means lots of people have low levels of it. Tyrosine is released for absorption into our bloodstream when milk’s primary protein, casein is broken down and digested. In the section of our brain stem called the olfactory bulb, tyrosine reacts with the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase to form dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine which have positive physical and mental effects (these are the feel good chemicals). Tyrosine is a precursor to several hormones, including levodopa; synthetic levodopa is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. It is also a forerunner to melanin, the skin pigment that protects against sun damage. Tyrosine is related to the manufacture of insulin. Also, tyrosine seems to improve physical and cognitive performance.
Fine cheese should be consumed within the context of a balanced diet, with vegetables, fruits and other foods rich in fiber. Like any good thing, you don’t want to overdo it, eat cheese in moderation. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat some everyday though.
Real cheese is an incredible food that not only tastes good but is good for you! Prairie Hollow Farm cheese is real, artisan cheese that is made with care and great concern for quality. You can be assured that our cheese provides these health benefits along with an excellent flavor!
McCalman, Max and David Gibbons. 2009. Mastering Cheese Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager. 1st ed. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, USA, NY, pp. 384.