The Benefits of Aged Cheese for Your Health
Aged cheese is not only delicious, but also good for your health. According to recent studies, aged cheese contains beneficial bacteria and compounds that can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and boost immunity. Here are some of the reasons why you should include aged cheese in your diet.
- Aged cheese is rich in calcium and protein, which are essential for strong bones and muscles. Calcium also helps regulate nerve and muscle function, blood clotting, and hormone secretion. Protein provides amino acids that are needed for various bodily processes, such as tissue repair, enzyme production, and hormone synthesis.
- Aged cheese contains probiotics, which are live microorganisms that can improve your gut health and digestion. Probiotics can help balance the gut flora, prevent infections, and reduce inflammation. Some of the probiotics found in aged cheese include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus.
- Aged cheese has lower lactose content than fresh cheese, which makes it easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant or sensitive. Lactose is a sugar found in milk that can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people. Aged cheese has less lactose because it is broken down by bacteria during the aging process.
- Aged cheese contains bioactive peptides, which are small fragments of protein that have various health benefits. Some of the bioactive peptides found in aged cheese include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which can lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels; opioid peptides, which can reduce pain and stress by binding to opioid receptors in the brain; and immunomodulatory peptides, which can enhance immune system function by stimulating or suppressing immune cells.
Aged cheese comes in many varieties, such as cheddar, parmesan, gouda, brie, and blue cheese. Each type of aged cheese has its own flavor, texture, and nutritional profile. You can enjoy aged cheese as a snack, in salads, sandwiches, soups, sauces, or desserts. However, moderation is key, as aged cheese can also be high in calories, fat, and sodium. Aim for no more than one or two ounces of aged cheese per day to reap its health benefits without exceeding your daily limits.
How do you choose the best aged cheese for your health? There are a few factors to consider, such as the type of milk, the aging time, and the origin of the cheese. Generally, aged cheese made from grass-fed cows’ milk is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and brain. Aged cheese that has been aged for longer periods of time tends to have more probiotics and bioactive peptides, which can improve your gut health and blood pressure. Aged cheese that comes from specific regions or countries may have unique characteristics and benefits, such as the antioxidants in Italian parmesan or the anti-inflammatory properties of French roquefort.
How do you store and serve aged cheese to preserve its quality and flavor? The best way to store aged cheese is to wrap it in wax paper or cheese paper, which allows it to breathe and retain moisture. Avoid using plastic wrap or aluminum foil, which can trap odors and affect the taste of the cheese. Store aged cheese in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable drawer or a separate container. To serve aged cheese, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before eating, so that it can reach room temperature and release its full aroma and flavor. Cut aged cheese into thin slices or small pieces, and pair it with fruits, nuts, crackers, bread, wine, or beer.