Parmesan Cheese — Healthy and Unhealthy

Parmesan cheese is a hard, salty variety of cheese that can be used as a topping or an ingredient in a variety of dishes. While it has some health benefits, it also contains large amounts of calories and sodium.

Grated Parmesan (1-oz or 28.4g)Daily Value (%)
Calories110 Kcal
Moisture6.5 grams
Fat (Total)8 grams12%
Saturated Fat4.4 grams22%
Cholesterol24.6 mg8%
Carbohydrates3.5 grams
Protein8.4 grams17%
Sodium496 mg21%
Potassium52 mg1.5%
Calcium250 mg29%
Vitamin B120.39 mcg6.3%
Vitamin A65 mcg8%
Magnesium10 mg2.5%
Phosphorus180 mg18%
Iron0.13 mg0.7%
Zinc1.23 mg8%
Date from USDA FoodData Central. One-ounce (1-oz) serving of Grated Parmesan Cheese.

Despite its high fat and calorie content, parmesan cheese offers a healthy option when it is consumed in moderation. Parmesan cheese contains high levels of calcium, which helps build strong bones and teeth. It also contains phosphorus, which aids in cell growth and maintenance. Furthermore, eating parmesan cheese can help boost your mood due to the presence of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin.

It’s also worth noting that some pre-shredded parmesan cheese might contain preservatives and added ingredients like food starch and cellulose (sawdust or wood pulp), which may help to keep the shredded pieces separate. Some of the processed parmesan powder may also contain other ingredients, see the image below:

And with buttermilk, it can result in a higher lactose content especially if you are lactose intolerance — we’ve discussed more on parmesan lactose content article. Therefore, it is best to choose an all-natural parmesan cheese block (and grate it yourself) if you want to enjoy its health benefits at best.

Inflammation

Parmesan cheese is also rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (1), which has been shown to reduce inflammation (2). This means that eating parmesan cheese can potentially help with a variety of health conditions including arthritis, asthma and even some autoimmune diseases.

Additionally, CLA has been linked to weight loss. Studies have shown that CLA may help reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass. This is because it helps to regulate the hormones involved in regulating metabolism, which can help you burn more calories.

In a study taken place on the Chinese population (3), people who took CLA supplements for 12 weeks lost more body fat and inches off their waistlines than those who didn’t take the supplements. But some other sources suggested a modest benefit in weight loss.

High Sodium – Salty!

Because of its high sodium content, it’s important that you limit your intake of parmesan cheese. Eating too much can increase your risk of high blood pressure and contribute to stomach troubles like bloating and gas. If you’re looking to get the health benefits without the downsides of parmesan cheese, try opting for a reduced-sodium version, or opt for other cheeses that are lower in sodium and fat such as mozzarella or cottage cheese.

For instance, one ounce of Belgioioso fresh mozzarella cheese contains only 85 milligrams of sodium, while one ounce of Belgioioso parmesan block contains 250 milligrams of sodium. See the Image below. Additionally, the Italian Parmigiano Reggiano offers lower salt content than our regular parmesan — usually around 180 milligrams per ounce.

High Saturated Fat – Unhealthy!

Parmesan cheese is also high in saturated fat, with about 22% of daily needs for each 28-gram serving. Eating too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. To reduce your intake, try using smaller portions or reduced-fat versions of parmesan cheese, Kraft and a few other brands have it. Alternatively, opt for lower-fat cheeses like ricotta.

Gut Health

Parmesan cheese is also an excellent source of probiotics, microorganisms that help keep your gut healthy. These probiotics are beneficial bacteria which aid in digestion and support the immune system. Studies have shown that adding more probiotic-rich foods to your diet can help improve your digestive health, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. These bacteria also help protect against some intestinal infections (such as H. pylori) and chronic diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease) (4).

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