Oh, how I love cheese!
There is something about the creamy salty flavor, the smooth texture and a feeling deep in me that is so ultimately satisfied when I eat cheese. There was a long time when I either bought skim or low fat cheese or flat out didn’t eat cheese at all because I thought it was unhealthy. The truth is that low fat imitations of cheese are what is unhealthy for us.
When I ate cheese that was low fat I ate a lot of it. The reason behind this over consumption is that the food is not whole. It is processed and is missing its natural satiating fats, filling proteins, and necessary vitamins and minerals. Of course this incomplete food left me feeling hungry and unsatisfied. I had such a hard time with eating and eating and eating cheese. Little did I know I was filling my body with damaged molecules of imitation food. No wonder my body was hungry!
Now I allow myself to have natural cheese made with full-fat milk I am sated by the high quality fats, proteins and nutrients. This satisfaction leads to lower consumption. Moderation is the result. And moderation is the key to health.
The next step in understanding cheese is looking at how it is made. We already know that not all cheese is created equal, but some of it is pre-cooked and others are not. I prefer to have my cheese made from fresh milk from a healthy animal minus the cooking step. Raw dairy products are high in enzymes, vitamins, minerals, healthy bacteria and when fermented are easier on our body to digest and absorb.
The cooking step is called Pasteurization.
Dairy products have been pasteurized since 1938 here in Ontario, which occurred with the onset of large-scale industrial dairies. This is certainly necessary for the state of conventional milk production. But if you are sourcing your milk from a small local dairy it is not necessary as long as the cows are healthy and the milk is processed in a sanitary fashion.
The downside of pasteurization is that the high temperature destroys many nutrients. The naturally occurring lactobacilli that traditionally colonized our large intestines are killed. Along with those bacteria go their enzymes and the lactase from the cow, which aids in the breakdown of lactose. This makes those with lactose intolerance or milk sensitivity at an even greater disadvantage in the realm of digestion. Delicate healthy fast and cholesterols are sensitive to heat and are damaged to the point where they are rancid and considered “free radicals”. Free radicals can damage our intestines, arteries and brain. Heat sensitive vitamins are destroyed and synthetic ones are added back in which are inferior to those that are naturally occurring.
Unfortunately dairy processing doesn’t end there. It continues to another step called Homogenization. Homogenization is a process involving again high heat and added pressure. Milk is forced through a fine sieve to homogenize the cream with the milk preventing them from separating. This results in the molecules of protein, fat and sugars being blasted apart into pieces that are unrecognizable by the body. This reduces our ability to digest and absorb nutrients from milk.
Fortunately we can legally buy raw cheeses. Any cheese aged for more than 60days can be made from raw milk. Check the label for “unpasteurized” or “raw”. You can also ask your local cheese shop to try out the raw cheeses they have. Parmesan is always made from raw milk.