Nutritional qualities of cheese
Cheese has always played a key role in French gastronomy. A food to enjoy, cheese is also a healthy product, as a source of many nutrients, vitamins, minerals and trace elements including calcium, which contribute to a balanced diet.
In France there are over 1,200 cheese varieties. This wide diversity means that everyone, regardless of age, tastes and situation, can reap the nutritional benefits of cheese. Particularly rich in calcium, cheese is also abundant in good nutritional quality proteins, vitamins and trace elements.
Most cheeses are characterized by their content of proteins, minerals and trace elements (calcium, zinc, potassium, etc.) and vitamins (vitamin A, B2, B9, B12, D, etc.).
Their nutritional composition depends largely on the milk and technology used, so it is difficult to generalise. Cooked pressed cheese, for example, is particularly high in calcium and phosphorous.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is also found in cheese. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and nerve cells. It contributes to the production and processing of proteins. This vitamin is especially found in blue cheeses (Roquefort) or cheeses with a bloomy rind (Camembert, Coulommiers, Brie)
Vitamin A (or retinol) is found in milk fat, cheese, butter and cream. It contributes to healthy vision, particularly at night, as well as to fighting infection and preventing premature ageing. We need it to keep skin in healthy condition.
The energy value of cheese essentially depends on their water and fat content. This can vary from 50kcal for a 100g portion of 0% fat fromage blanc to 90kcal for a portion of pressed cheese such as Comté.
Displaying the fat content in cheese has long misguided consumers. The old regulations are to blame – they stipulated that the fat content had to be indicated in relation to the dry weight, without taking into account the water content in the cheese! As a result, the figures were much higher than the amount of fat actually contained in 100g of cheese. Thus Camembert showed a fat content of 45%, but it was actually just 20%. Since 2007, the legislation has allowed the fat content of the finished product – as it is consumed – to be displayed. The content indicated corresponds to 100g of cheese. A sensible portion of cheese after a meal is considered to be around 30g. Lastly, just 0 to 9g of fat can be found per portion of cheese.
Example of the composition of a cheese: Camembert
Camembert is France’s emblematic cheese. Produced in Normandy, it owes its name to the village of Camembert, which is located near Vimoutiers, in the Orne.
It is an excellent source de calcium : 456mg/100g, or around 140mg per 30g portion (1/8 of a camembert), or 15% of an adult’s recommended daily intake.
Quality proteins of high biological value, rich in essential amino acids, and in large amounts (22.5g/100g, or 6.7g per 30g portion).
A moderate quantity of fat: 20.7g per 100g, or 6g per portion.
Calorie intake of 275Kcal per 100g, or 82Kcal per 30g portion.
Also provides phosphorous, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B9 and various micronutrients.
Did you know?
The lactose, carbohydrate or “sugar” naturally contained in milk is partly eliminated and broken down by microorganisms during milk processing. Cheeses and butter contain no or little trace of lactose.