Recently the Parmigiano Reggiano consortium published an interesting article entitled “Parmigiano Reggiano, a naturally functional food” which highlights the nutritional characteristics of the King of Cheeses, the result of delicate microbiological and biochemical balances favorable to the development of the lactic flora of the milk that is safeguarded from the stable.

We will try to report the main nutritional properties of Parmigiano Reggiano, shedding light on the proteins, fats, calcium and lactose present in it.

First of all, Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese rich in proteins. These represent the quantitatively most important component because they have a high biological value and are easily assimilated, as they are predigested (the proteolytic enzymes of the lactic bacteria that develop in the curd break down the casein forming compounds with an increasingly lower molecular weight up to free amino acids). This means that after 24 months of curing, about 25% of casein is in the form of free amino acids and for this reason 100 grams of Parmigiano Reggiano are digested in about 40 minutes (100 g of proteins deriving from beef are instead digested in 3 hours) and are therefore recommended after training to allow the muscle to repair faster what has been damaged during the effort.

Another component of Parmigiano Reggiano are certainly animal-type fats, which for a long time were considered a negative element from a metabolic point of view. Recent research has instead shown that this class of nutrients helps prevent pathological conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and hypertension.

Calcium is also present in large quantities within this cheese (exactly 1155 mg / 100 g) and thanks to aging it is also easily assimilated by the intestine. In fact, some studies have shown that the daily intake of 30 g of Parmigiano Reggiano alone can cover 29% of the recommended daily calcium requirement for adolescents and the elderly and 38% in the case of children and adults.

Finally, remember that Parmigiano Reggiano is naturally lactose-free. Recent studies have in fact shown that lactose is completely degraded by the thermophilic lactic flora from the first hours of the product’s life.

The King of Cheeses can therefore be defined as a “naturally functional” food, due to the richness of compounds with specific metabolic actions. An immunoregulatory effect of this cheese seems to be played by the peptides released during maturation (24-30 months) while evidence begins to structure on the role that oligosaccharides, bioactive peptides and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) can play by acting as prebiotics on the microbiota.

These properties are now considered to be of maximum interest since the gut microbiota constitutes a fundamental asset of our body providing protection against pathogens, education of the immune system and modulation of the development of the gastrointestinal tract.

Recent studies have also documented the important role that Parmigiano Reggiano can play in allergic subjects: with aging, Parmigiano Reggiano can be used in many children who are allergen to casein in milk.

To confirm this, the action of butyrate is emphasized, which becomes available during maturation: with 1-2 teaspoons of Parmigiano Reggiano about 7 mg of butyrate are taken (the same quantity present in 100 ml of breast milk), which is very important for its physiological function in controlling the immune response, increasing immunological tolerance.