The quick answer is yes! — Parmesan cheese is an excellent option for the ketogenic diet. It has a high-fat content, with each tablespoon (5g) serving containing around 1.4g of fat and 1.4g of protein, making it an ideal source of energy-rich nutrients. It also has a very low carb content — containing only around 0.7g of carbohydrates per tbsp. Data via USDA link for grated parmesan.
This makes it an ideal option for those following a low-carb diet, as the carbs can easily be kept under control.
However, it’s important to note that the curing duration of parmesan cheese will affect the carbohydrate content. For example, parmesan cheese that has been aged for longer periods of time will have low carbohydrate contents, while fresher Parmesan cheese (the US legal minimum is 10 months) may have slightly higher carbohydrate contents. See the table below.
|BelGioioso (10 months) Parmesan, block||7g||1g||9g|
|Frigo Shredded Parmesan (10 months)||7g||1g||9g|
|Sargento (14 months) Parmesan, shaved||7g||1g||10g|
|Kirkland (24 months) Parmigiano Reggiano, shreds||8g||0g||11g|
|Trader Joe’s (3 years) Parmigiano Reggiano, block||8g||0g||9g|
The table above showed some of the popular parmesan and their nutritional value based on a 1-oz (28g) serving. Keep in mind that the typical serving for most of us is about 1-2 tablespoons for our dishes which will be equivalent to about 0.7-1.4 grams of carbs from parmesan alone. Therefore, it is safe to say that Parmesan cheese is keto-friendly and can be included in the high-fat, low-carb diet.
However, you probably have heard of it too — some pre-grated or pre-shredded parmesan uses food starch and cellulose as anti-caking fillers to prevent them from clumping. Therefore, it may result in much higher carbohydrates. It is best to choose an all-natural parmesan cheese block with no fillers and grate your own cheese.
We’ve discussed how to choose the best parmesan cheese here in the previous post.
Another important thing to consider when following a ketogenic diet is the calorie intake. Most grated parmesan cheese contains around 22 kcal per tablespoon (5g). Therefore, it’s best to practice portion control when adding parmesan to dishes.
The other reason: Why is parmesan good for Keto?
You could be focused too much on counting carbs and fat that you’re forgetting about the other micronutrients that your body needs. As mentioned by 131 Method website, It’s very easy to forget (or not even think about) the other important micronutrients such as folate, calcium, thiamin, potassium, and magnesium when it comes to the keto diet, but they’re just as important.
The good news is parmesan cheese also contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Also, a certain amount of folate and thiamin. This means that you get all the essential nutrients your body needs while still being able to keep your carb intake down.
On top of that, because parmesan is naturally high in fat, it will help to keep you feeling full and satiated between the keto intervals.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that some parmesan especially grated parmesan contains a considerable amount of sodium — which can be quite salty. If you’re also watching your salt intake, you may need to be mindful of how much parmesan cheese you’re using.