Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, or parmesan, hails from Emilia-Romagna, a region in northern Italy known for its incredible restaurants and food products.
It’s made at a special dairy that uses farm-fresh milk from cows that have never been fed silage (dried animal feed). The dairy implements a regimented process to brine and age wheels of cheese until they’re ready to enjoy.
All of this is to ensure consumers are getting authentic parmesan that’s packed with health benefits. Notably, the parmesan you might find in a plastic shaker isn’t made using the same process and it doesn’t boast these same health benefits.
Here are some ways authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano can be beneficial to your diet.
Naturally low in fat, free of carbs, and lactose-free, Parmigiano-Reggiano has plenty of health benefits
“Parmesan cheese is a good source of protein and fat. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin A, vitamins B6 and B12, phosphorus, zinc, and copper,” Leah Silberman, RDN, told INSIDER. “Harder cheeses like parmesan or provolone tend to be the best options. In general, the harder cheeses have a higher protein content and lower fat content.”
An ounce of parmesan packs about 10 grams of protein. And, according to a report about parmesan cheese and bone health published in the US National Library of Medicine, authentic parmesan is easy to digest due to its probiotic effects and it is rich in calcium. According to the report, the cheese’s high calcium content can be beneficial for bone health and osteoporosis prevention.
Parmesan is a dairy product, but it’s lactose-free
“People who normally suffer unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms from lactose intolerance may tolerate a serving of parmesan cheese just fine,” Silberman told INSIDER.
Made from milk with lactose, the lactose in the dairy becomes lactic acid as the wheel of cheese matures, meaning that any lactose left by the time the cheese has aged is negligent if at all existent.
As a hard cheese, parmesan is also considered safe for pregnant women to eat. There are also Halal-certified and Kosher-certified variations of Parmigiano-Reggiano that allow those with dietary restrictions to enjoy the taste and health benefits of the cheese.
There are a lot of ways to incorporate parmesan into your diet
Although parmesan shouldn’t become a major cornerstone of your diet, Silberman said parmesan can be a “delicious supplement” to any well-rounded healthy diet. When choosing to top your meal with parmesan or enjoy it as a snack, she advises following the suggested serving size, which is about ¼ cup of shredded parmesan.
And, of course, to really gain the health benefits, you’ll want to enjoy your cheese with reasonably healthy foods. “I sprinkle it on my chickpea or lentil pastas and I love adding it to roasted veggies like broccoli or asparagus,” Silberman told INSIDER.
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