When somebody mentions parmesan cheese, the first thing you probably think of is pasta. Well, you are not wrong. Parmesan cheese originates from Italy and is added to most pasta dishes. It can also be added to pizzas, salads, steaks, etc. It has a salty flavor that most people around the world enjoy. I mean, what would be a bowl of spaghetti without some parmesan on the top? Making it is a very lengthy process, it can take cheese maker up to 2 years to make it. But the flavor it has in the end is certainly worth it. But besides being very tasty, parmesan also offers a lot of nutritional benefits. So is parmesan cheese healthy? How many calories in parmesan is also a frequently asked question. If you want to find out more about the nutritional facts and calories found in parmesan cheese, just keep on reading!
How is parmesan made?
Before finding out about the nutrients and calories in parmesan cheese, you are probably wondering – how is parmesan made? The original parmesan cheese known as Parmigiano-Reggiano is made only in Italy and the process of making it is quite fascinating. Parmesan is made from cow’s milk but unlike other cheeses, this milk is unpasteurized. The cows that give this milk aren’t give any steroids, hormones, or anything else unnatural. They eat grass only found on the farms where they are kept.
After harvesting it, the milk it is put in big containers. After that rennet and whey is added and the milk is heated. Heating the milk results in the formation of curds. The curds are gathered and put in round molds. The big wheel of cheese is then put into a solution of water and Mediterranean Sea salt. It stays like that for up to four weeks. And that is it. After that the cheese is stored and it needs to age for about a year. After aging for a year, the cheese is inspected in great detail. Everything has to be perfect! If the cheese is approved it is then left to age for another year. Talk about waiting right?
Some of you might think that this is a long and painful process of making just one wheel of cheese. But you should remember that a whole wheel of parmesan cheese is worth over a thousand dollars. The more it ages and ripens the more flavor it has. That’s why rather than cooking with it, most people choose to eat it alone on a cheese dish. It is a very fancy piece of cheese!
Even though it mind sound surprising, parmesan cheese offers a lot of nutritional benefits. First on the lost we have protein. Even though most cheeses contain protein, parmesan is especially packed with it. It contains more protein than cheddar, feta, mozzarella and other cheeses. The amount of protein can be contributed to the aging process parmesan goes through. During the aging process, parmesan loses most of its moisture and this leads to higher protein levels. Casein is a protein which is found in most cheeses. It is harder to digest and people can get stomach problems because of it. Parmesan also contains casein but not to that extent.
The aging process also helps with this matter. Casein is broken down into other proteins which are easier to digest. So before we eat parmesan cheese, the casein in it is already partly digested. Especially good news for those who have lactose intolerance is that parmesan contains a very small amount of lactose. During the aging process once more, the lactose turns to lactic acid and what remains is virtually lactose-free parmesan cheese.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are also found in parmesan. When it comes to minerals, parmesan is rich with calcium, magnesium, sodium and phosphorus. Parmesan also has a fair amount of omega-3 which helps with improving your cardiovascular health. A little less known vitamin know as K2 is also found in parmesan cheese. This vitamin is responsible for keeping your bones and muscles strong and healthy. Dairy fats which used to be a big no for people, have been proven to have a lot of health benefits. Parmesan is one dairy product which is a great source of fat. It has been proven that this amount of fat doesn’t pose a serious risk to our health. But how about calories in parmesan cheese?
When it comes to calories in parmesan cheese, it may surprise some of you to know that parmesan is not that high in calories. It is actually one of the cheeses with the least calories. I one table spoon of parmesan there are only 22 calories. Two table spoons which will equal an ounce contain 44 calories. To put it in perspective we will compare it to other cheeses. One ounce of feta has 77 calories. Furthermore one ounce of goat cheese has 75 calories. Mozzarella also contains from 70 to 80 calories in one ounce. It depends on what kind of mozzarella cheese you are buying. Camembert cheese contains even more calories – 85 in ounce. Looks like if you are looking to lower your calorie intake, parmesan is the right choice for you!
All in all it looks like parmesan is a really healthy kind of cheese. And for all its nutritional benefits it also improves the flavor of anything we put it in. When it comes to the amount of protein it contains, some may even call it the king of all cheeses! If you are looking to increase your protein intake, parmesan is your friend. If you are looking to lower your calorie intake – we have parmesan again. 22 calories in parmesan cheese is very little compared to the calories in other cheeses. And if that is not enough, parmesan cheese also has little to no lactose. People that are lactose intolerant can also enjoy the flavor this cheese provides. Amazing, right?