Parmesan is one of the export hits of Italy. No wonder, because from the internationally popular Italian kitchen Parmesan is hard to imagine. The spicy-aromatic hard cheese with the crispy salt crystals tastes like pasta, on pizza, in pesto and rocket salad or simply pure to a glass of red wine. But Parmesan is not only delicious, but also rich in nutrients. Find out all you need to know about Parmesan - how many calories this cheese contains, whether Parmesan is allowed in pregnancy and what effect it has on blood pressure.
Is Parmesan healthy?
Due to its high nutrient density, Parmesan is basically considered healthy. The following nutritional values are offered by Parmesan:
- Parmesan contains 1.2 grams of calcium per 100 grams - which is good for bones and teeth as well as for the prevention of osteoporosis.
- Its high content of vitamin D also promotes the storage of calcium in the bones, making Parmesan a particularly good source of calcium.
- Parmesan is low in cholesterol but rich in protein.
- In addition, iron, zinc, potassium and the mineral phosphate are abundant.
Healthy in moderation
Despite its numerous nutrients, Parmesan should only be consumed in moderation: a maximum of 30 grams per day is recommended. Because the salty cheese has a fairly high content of sodium, which - taken in large quantities in the long term - increases blood pressure. However, the minerals calcium and potassium contained in Parmesan can counteract this effect positively.
With 32 to 35 percent fat, Parmesan is a semi-fat cheese. However, it has a fairly high content of saturated fatty acids, which should rather be consumed in small quantities. Depending on the fat content, Parmesan has about 390 to 465 kilocalories per 100 grams.
Parmesan lowers the blood pressure
An Italian study from 2012 showed that Parmesan and the very similar Grana Padano cheese reduce blood pressure. The biggest success achieved mid-mature, about nine to twelve months old Grana Padano.
This contains a high concentration of certain tripeptides which have the same ACE-inhibitory effect as a hypotensive agent. Participants in the study had eaten about 30 grams of Grana Padano daily for eight weeks.
Incompatibilities are (k) a problem
People with lactose intolerance do not have to do without Parmesan. Due to the long ripening process, 100 grams of parmesan contain only about 0.06 grams of lactose. The cheese is therefore considered lactose-free.
On the other hand, Parmesan is taboo with histamine intolerance. Like all long-matured cheeses, it contains a lot of histamine and therefore should not be on the diet of people with histamine intolerance.
Parmesan in pregnancy
In general, pregnant women will be advised to take caution with raw milk cheese: these cheeses may contain Listeria bacteria that can be dangerous to the unborn child.
Although Parmesan is a raw milk cheese, its consumption during pregnancy is considered harmless. Since the milk is heated to a great extent during its production and it ripens for a long time, Parmesan no longer contains Listeria bacteria. Incidentally, the same applies to Grana Padano and many other long-aged hard cheeses.
Since the Listeria bacteria can still settle on the bark, pregnant women should cut them off as a precaution and then wash their hands thoroughly. They should also refrain from eating grated cheese, as Listeria could get onto the cheese during processing due to hygiene problems.
Parmesan substitute: vegetarian and vegan
Parmesan contains animal rennet and is therefore not vegetarian. If you do not want to give up the taste, you can make use of similar hard cheese, which is made with microbial rennet, ie cultivated mold.
For vegans, there are alternatives to the cow's milk product, which are purely vegetable and are made from soy.
Storage of Parmesan
Parmesan is best kept in the fridge. Wrapped in wax or sandwich paper, a kitchen roll or a thin dish towel, it can breathe and last for several weeks. Packed in a vacuum, it can even be stored for several months. On the other hand, cling film is not recommended, as the cheese sweats and molds easily.
Parmesan can be frozen well. Grated frozen Parmesan can be used directly from the freezer because it does not freeze completely due to its low water content. If you freeze small pieces of Parmesan, you can thaw them if necessary in portions and process immediately. Once thawed cheese should not be frozen again.
Mold on Parmesan - what to do?
Should one throw away Parmesan with a moldy spot or cut off the affected piece? Here are the ghosts. The mold may have spread further than you can see with the naked eye. Since mold is hazardous to health, you should cut off the affected area at least over a large area and in doubt rather throw away the whole Parmesan.
Moldy Parmesan out of the bag should be disposed of completely. Grated cheese molds easily anyway and quickly loses its flavor. So better buy a Parmesan piece and rub it just before use!
What makes the original
For about 800 years, Parmesan has been produced almost in the same way. For the production of the Italian specialty strict conditions apply, whose observance is strictly controlled.
Only dairies in certain provinces of Italy are allowed to produce Parmesan. The use of additives and the feeding of silage, a fermentation feed, are prohibited. Real Parmesan has to mature for at least twelve months, in fact it usually matures for 18 to 24 months. If a cheese receives the quality seal, it may carry the protected name "Parmesan" or the Italian name "Parmigiano Reggiano".
Good Parmesan is not only available in the delicatessen. Also many supermarkets and discounters carry original Parmesan at comparatively low prices. However, one should look closely, because often Parmesanimitate are sold under a similar sounding name.
Parmesan and Grana Padano
Often confused with Parmesan is the very similar Grana Padano. This type of cheese is also an Italian specialty with a protected name.
Grana Padano is produced in almost all of northern Italy and is subject to less stringent food requirements. As a result, he is more varied in taste, often a little softer and milder, since he only has to mature at least nine months. Grana Padano is cheaper than Parmesan, but not necessarily worse - here too strict quality criteria apply!
Parmesan recipe: risotto with zucchini
With Parmesan many delicious dishes can be cooked. How about a healthy zucchini-parmesan risotto?
Sweat 500 grams of diced zucchini with an onion and 200 grams of risotto rice in olive oil. Gradually add about 750 milliliters of broth and let the liquid soak up the rice repeatedly, stirring constantly, before refilling.
The risotto must simmer over medium heat until the rice inside is still slightly bite. Then stir in 50 grams of grated Parmesan and taste the dish with salt and pepper. Of course, you can also decorate the meal with some freshly grated Parmesan - buon appetito!