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Cheese Consumption In The United States
Cheese Consumption In The United States
According to recent figures, the United States has the 7th largest per capita consumption of cheese. In 2004, that position in the world rankings equated to 31.2 pounds of cheese being eaten by every person in America. That's a lot of pizzas! In fact, if all of that cheese consumption was pizza-related, a person would have to eat over 80 pizzas in a year. Not surprisingly, the Italians and Greeks rank higher than Americain the cheese consumption stakes, but the gap is closing.
There are so many different types of cheese produced in America, but the most popular one for the cheese eaters of the country is Mozzarella. This pizza-topping favorite overtook cheddar to take the nation's favorite crown in 2002 and shows no sign of giving up the title anytime soon. This is supported by the change in cheese production over the 10-year period from 1995 to 2005. In 1995, cheddar represented 34.9% of the cheese production in America. Mozzarella was a close second, accounting for 30.7%. However, in 2005, the cheddar production had dropped to 33.4% and mozzarella had climbed to almost equal cheddar at 33.1%. The most prolific cheese making state, not surprisingly is Wisconsin. Over a quarter of all American cheese is produced by the so-called 'Cheese State', a name it richly deserves.
The rise in cheese consumption in America can largely be attributed to the convenience of the product. Cheese can now be bought shredded or sliced and in re-sealable bags to keep it fresh for longer. The variety of cheese and mixed cheese combinations ensure that there is bound to be a cheese to suit any dish. Pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches and pasta are just some of the foods that cheese enhances. The use of cheese in many fast foods and take-outs has also contributed to the increase in the amount of cheese that Americans eat on a yearly basis.
The rising trend for cheese consumption shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Between 1980 and 2004, the amount of cheese eaten per person rose from 17.5 pounds to 31.2 pounds. That is a huge increase and the projected figure for the year 2015 is 34 pounds per capita. There is no doubt that the majority of Americans enjoy cheese in one form or another on a regular basis.
Of course, it isn't just convenience that has led to the increase of cheese consumption in America,health factors have also had an impact. Cheese is an excellent source of calcium. This essential nutrient helps strengthen bones and teeth. Interestingly, the amount of calcium in cheese differs by type. The best source of calcium in the cheese family is parmesan. Parmesan provides almost twice as much calcium, by weight, as mozzarella. There is no doubt, if you are looking for a quick and simple source of calcium, then a pizza with a mixture of cheese in the topping would be the ideal choice.
There are few of us that are not partial to one or more of the over 1,000 different varieties of cheeses that offer a wide spectrum of flavors, textures and aromas. Low-fat varieties can add flavor and nutrition to our menus throughout the year.
Cheese varieties are distinguished by what type of milk is used, the production methods and local tastes and preferences. The process of making cheese is considered an art, akin to winemaking in many parts of the world.
This chart graphically details the %DV( daily value ) that a serving of Cheese, low-fat provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Cheese, low-fat can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Cheese, low-fat, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
In recent studies, calcium has been shown to:
Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals.
Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them.
Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle.
Calcium is best known for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. In a process known as bone mineralization, calcium and phosphorus join to form calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is a major component of the mineral complex (called hydroxy apatite.) that gives structure and strength to bones. One ounce of low-fat mozzarella cheese provides 18.3% of the daily value for calcium along with 13.1% of the DV for phosphorus.(Please note that the low-fat mozzarella cited throughout this article is not the only type of low-fat cheese that we recommend. We just chose it as an example of a low-fat cheese so that we can highlight this food's nutritional attributes.)
Calcium also plays a role in many other vital physiological activities, including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity, cell membrane function and blood pressure regulation. Because these activities are essential to life, the body utilizes complex regulatory systems to tightly control the amount of calcium in the blood, so that sufficient calcium is always available. As a result, when dietary intake of calcium is too low to maintain adequate blood levels of calcium, calcium stores are drawn out of the bones to maintain normal blood concentrations. If a person's diet does not supply adequate calcium, this situation can result in osteoporosis after many years.
Calcium-rich Foods Better than Supplements for Growing Girls
For young girls going through the rapid growth spurts of puberty, getting calcium from dairy products, such as cheese, may be better for building bone than taking a calcium supplement, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Finnish researchers enrolled 195 healthy girls aged 10-12 years and divided them into 4 groups. One group was given supplemental calcium (1000 mg) + vitamin D3 (200 IU) each day. The second group received only supplemental calcium (1000 mg/day). The third group ate cheese supplying 1,000 mg of calcium each day, and the fourth group was given a placebo supplement.
At the beginning and end of the study, DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans were run to check bone indexes of the hip, spine, and whole body, and the radius and tibia were checked by peripheral quantitative computed tomography.
At the conclusion of the study, girls getting their calcium from cheese had higher whole-body bone mineral density and cortical thickness of the tibia than girls given supplemental calcium + vitamin D, supplemental calcium alone, or placebo. While the researchers noted that differences in the rate at which different children naturally grow might account for some of the differences seen in bone mineral density, they concluded: "Increasing calcium intake by consuming cheese appears to be more beneficial for cortical bone mass accrual than the consumption of tablets containing a similar amount of calcium."
Dairy Products Protective against Gout
Gout, a common type of arthritis whose onset typically involves the big toe, has been linked to eating foods high in purines (organ meats, meats, shellfish, herring, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and Brewer's yeast). A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms that eating meat or fish increases the chances of developing gout, but adds a new point of protective data: eating more dairy actually decreases gout risk.
Purines, one of the nucleic acid building blocks of DNA and RNA, contribute to gout since they are metabolized to form uric acid, which if produced in excess, can deposit in joints causing pain, redness and swelling.
In addition to eating lots of meats and fish high in purines, consuming too much alcohol, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can also increase the risk of gout.
Alcohol increases the rate of uric acid production and also impairs kidney function, thus slowing the excretion of uric acid. Consumption of refined carbohydrates, simple sugars and saturated fats-all of which promote obesity-also result in increased uric acid production and decreased excretion.
Not surprisingly, in this study, in addition to men eating the most meat and purine-rich fish, both obese men and those drinking alcohol also had more gout.
The study, an analysis drawn from data collected during the prospective Health Professionals Followup Study on 47,000 adult men, revealed that among those who ate the most red meat, fish or seafood of any type, risk of gout was increased by as much as 50%. In contrast, risk of contracting gout decreased with increasing intake of dairy products. Men consuming the most dairy products cut their risk of gout by almost 50%! Although some vegetables like beans, peas, lentils, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach and mushrooms are also high in purines, no association was found in this study between eating purine-rich plant foods and an increased risk of gout.
A Very Good Source of Protein
Cheese is a good source of protein; for example, the nutritional profile of the part-skim mozzarella cheese featured on this page shows that it provides 6.9 grams of protein (13.8% of the daily value for protein) in one ounce for a caloric cost of only 72 calories. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein. We rely on animal and vegetable protein for our supply of amino acids, and then our bodies rearrange the nitrogen to create the pattern of amino acids we require.
Calcium-rich Dairy foods Boost the Body's Burning of Fat After a Meal
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition not only shows a diet rich in calcium, which is supplied by low-fat cheese, is associated with fat loss but may help explain why.
Normal-weight women ranging in age from 18-30 years were randomly assigned to a low (less than 800 mg per day) or high (1000-1400 mg per day) calcium diet for 1 year, and the rate at which their bodies burned fat after a meal was assessed at the beginning and end of the study.
After 1 year, fat oxidation (burning) was 20 times higher in women eating the high calcium diet compared to those in the low-calcium control group (0.10 vs. 0.005 gram per minute).
The women's blood levels of parathyroid hormone were also checked and were found to correlate with their rate of fat oxidation. (The primary function of parathyroid hormone is to maintain normal levels of calcium in the body. When calcium levels drop too low, parathyroid hormone is secreted to instruct bone cells to release calcium into the bloodstream.)
Higher blood levels of parathyroid hormone were associated with a lower rate of fat oxidation and lower dietary calcium intake, while lower blood levels of parathyroid hormone levels were seen in the women consuming a diet high in calcium, who were burning fat more rapidly after a meal. So, it appears that a high-calcium diet increases fat oxidation, at least in part, by lessening the need for parathyroid hormone secretion, thus keeping blood levels of the hormone low.
Dairy Foods Protective against Metabolic Syndrome
Including low-fat cheese and other dairy products in your healthy way of eating may reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome by up to 62%, shows the 20-year Caerphilly prospective study involving 2,375 Welsh men ranging in age from 45-59. Researchers have proposed that conjugated linolenic acid (a healthy fat found in greatest amounts in dairy foods from grass fed cows) may improve insulin action and reduce blood glucose levels. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Aug;61(8):695-8.
Practical Tip: Enjoy a pint of milk and/or a serving of yogurt, cottage cheese or cheese daily. Men who drank a daily pint of milk in the Caerphilly study reduced their risk of metabolic syndrome by 62%. Regular consumption of other dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, reduced metabolic syndrome risk by 56%.
Dairy Foods' Calcium Protective against Breast Cancer
When French researchers analyzed the dietary intakes of 3,627 women using five 24-hour records completed over the course of 18 months, those with the highest average dairy intake had a 45% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women with the lowest average intake. When only pre-menopausal women were considered, benefits were even greater; those with the highest average dairy intake had a 65% reduction in breast cancer risk. Analysis indicates the calcium provided by dairy foods is the reason why. Increasing calcium intake was associated with a 50% reduction in breast cancer risk for the whole population, and a 74% reduction for pre-menopausal women. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(2):139-45. Epub 2007 May 29.
Practical Tip: If you are allergic to dairy foods made from cow's milk, you may be able to tolerate those made from goat's or sheep's milk. You can also increase your calcium intake by making sesame seeds; spinach; blackstrap molasses; and collard, turnip or mustard greens, regular additions to your healthy way of eating.
By Chantel Simmons
Blue cheese is the only food that's not only safe to eat when moldy, but actually tastes better. From smooth English Stilton to Italian Gorgonzola, blue cheese is the most loved and most hated cheese of them all.
The Background Story
Blue cheese dates back to the year 800 when it was first made by monks. The veining process that gives blue cheese its name is a form of controlled spoilage that adds flavor to the cheese. During the early stages of cheesemaking, Penicillium roqueforti mold spores are added to the milk. The cheese is pierced with long, thin needles to create tunnels for air to get in, causing mold to grow. Mold breaks down the fats and the proteins in the cheese, so the longer it ages, the more intense the flavor and smoother the texture. Some blue cheeses are an even mix of blue and white, while others have just a hint of blue veining. Some veining is green, gray, purple or black. The cheese ripens from the inside out from about three to eight months.
Types of Blue Cheese
Italy: Gorgonzola, a cow's milk cheese dating back to ancient times and was created as a blue cheese by mistake. Now, you can find it classified as Gorgonzola piccante (aged) or dolce (sweet).
England: Stilton, known as both the king of blues and king of English cheeses, it can be made from sheep or cow's milk. The outer rind is usually darker and a bit harder than the cheese. Aging makes it creamier and more buttery, but not too salty or sharp.
France: Roquefort, made from cow's milk, is one of France's national treasures and dates back to first century B.C. It's slightly holey and contains green pigment rather than blue veining, and a soft, spicy, creamy texture; Bleu de Gex, made from raw cow's milk dates back to the 16th century and should be eaten within two months of aging since it doesn't improve with age.
Spain: Valdeon, Cabrales, Gamonedo, Picon: These Spanish blues are usually made from pasteurized cow's milk but can contains some goat's milk. Cabrales is one of the world's four most famous blues, along with Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola. It is traditionally a mixture of cow, sheep and goat's milk.
Denmark: The country's most famous blue cheese is the Danablu, first created in the 1920s.
Canada: The most famous blue cheese is the Benedictine Bleu, made by the Abbaye de Saint-Benoit-du-Lac. The Benedictine monks began making blue cheese in 1943 and the cheese is still made on the grounds today.
Many blue cheeses (such as Stilton, Gorgonzola) are made and available year round and age up to a year. They can be purchased and consumed at any time. Some blues, such as Bleu de Gex, Beenleigh Blue and Roquefort, are only made in winter. Here are some other year-round notes:
Bleu des Causses is lighter in color and drier in texture in winter than in summer. Bleu d'Auvergne is available year round but best in late summer to winter. Berkshire Blue tends to be harder in summer and softer in winter due to Jersey cows' diet. Cabrales: The mixed-milk variety is available late summer to mid-winter.
How to Buy and Store
Blue cheese is most often made from cow or sheep milk. The best way to store blue cheese is to keep it wrapped the way you get it from the cheesemonger. If you purchase blue cheese at a grocery store and it comes in plastic, wrap it instead in foil and store in the refrigerator. Blue cheese should be served at room temperature. Remove from refrigerator an hour before serving.
Blue cheese is perfect for eating on its own. Most blue cheeses are semi-hard. Depending on the texture, some types (such as Stilton) can be sliced; others (like Roquefort and Gorgonzola) are best crumbled; and softer forms (like Cambozola) are super creamy and are served with a spoon or spreading knife. These super-soft Blue cheeses are sometimes treated with an additional mold to the surface, causing a bloomy rind to occur. They can be careful sliced, or just broken into bite-size pieces. Blue cheese makes great dressings and sauces, and goes well with rich, sweet foods such as dates and figs. Most blues pair well with a fruity, full-bodied red or any dessert wine such as sherry or port.
Facts and Tips
The blue mold spores injected into cheese (Penicillium roqueforti) is the same culture that produces penicillin. While it's quite safe to eat even if you are allergic to penicillin, you should avoid eating blue cheese while you're taking penicillin as it could make the medicine ineffective.