Parmesan Cheese: Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses

Parmesan, often known as Parmigiano Reggiano, is a tough Italian cheese with distinctive dietary qualities.

Some even contemplate it a practical meals, believing that its parts might enhance well being or scale back illness danger (1). Its most notable dietary traits embody a lot of protein and calcium in addition to straightforward digestibility (2).

Traditionally, this well-known Italian cheese is made via a thousand-year-old manufacturing course of, leading to its attribute taste and texture.

However, within the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that any cheese with the identical bodily and chemical properties could also be labeled as Parmesan, whatever the manufacturing location (3).

This article explores the dietary advantages, widespread makes use of, and potential downsides of Italian Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmesan cheese is an Italian cheese with a characteristically sturdy and nutty taste that could be candy, salty, and bitter on the identical time. It has a crumbly, grainy texture and should fluctuate in shade from gentle to darkish yellow.

Unlike most different varieties of cheese, it has a protected designation of origin (PDO) set by the European Union (EU) (2).

This signifies that throughout the EU, solely cheese made within the conventional manufacturing areas of the Northern Italian provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantua could also be referred to as and offered as Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano (2).

How is it made?

In addition to being produced in particular Italian areas, Parmesan cheese is made solely with the milk of cows bred in the identical space — a mixture of Italian Frisona, Bianca Modenese, brown, and pink cows.

The manufacturing course of dates again to the Middle Ages, when monks developed a dry-paste cheese assembled into giant wheels of as much as 39 kilos (18 kg) every. These have been suited to long-term preservation (4).

Parmesan is made via a course of referred to as rennet coagulation. Rennet refers back to the group of animal enzymes used to begin the coagulation (solidifying) course of. Calf rennet is probably the most popularly used animal rennet (5).

Rennet-coagulated cheeses are historically made via these eight steps (5, 6):

  1. Setting. Cow’s milk begins to coagulate from the addition of rennet. Liquid whey begins to separate from a agency curd of casein micelles — milk’s fundamental sort of protein.
  2. Cutting. Once the curd has shaped, it’s minimize into rice-sized items to additional promote the expulsion of whey and scale back the cheese’s moisture content material. This is completed utilizing a standard software referred to as a spino.
  3. Cooking. Afterward, the combination of curd and whey is cooked at 131°F (55°C) to advertise curd contraction and additional whey expulsion.
  4. Draining. Once cooked, a mass of cheese is shaped, and the whey is drained to separate it from what is going to turn out to be the cheese.
  5. Knitting. During the knitting step, the curd continues to fuse to kind a bigger cheese mass.
  6. Pressing. Like knitting, urgent helps with whey expulsion and promotes a whole fusion of the curd. It’s executed by making use of exterior strain to the curd. A mould is then used to kind the recognizable Parmesan wheels.
  7. Salting. Salting is the final step, executed to scale back the moisture of the cheese. The wheels are submerged in saltwater or brine, which permits for salt absorption.

After salting, the maturation begins. This is often known as ripening.

The minimal ripening time is 12 months, and it might final for greater than 40 months. The whole maturation time is what determines the ultimate texture and taste of the cheese.


Parmesan is a tough cheese historically produced in particular areas in Northern Italy. It has a robust, nutty taste and grainy texture that may fluctuate relying on the maturation interval.

Parmesan cheese is very nutritious, even when consumed in small quantities.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of onerous Parmesan packs (7):

  • Calories: 111
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Carbs: 0.9 grams
  • Calcium: 26% of the each day worth (DV)
  • Phosphorus: 16% of the DV
  • Sodium: 14% of the DV

Due to its protein and fats content material, this cheese is an energy-dense meals, which means that it gives a excessive variety of energy per serving.

Yet, its excessive protein content material makes it a wonderful selection for individuals who comply with lacto-vegetarian diets. These are vegetarian diets that enable dairy merchandise.

Its fats content material primarily gives medium- and short-chain fatty acids. These are extra simply absorbed and could also be used as fast power sources, leading to much less physique fats accumulation (1, 2, 8).

Lastly, this cheese additionally gives many vitamins which might be important for bone well being, together with calcium, phosphorus, and zinc (9, 10).


Parmesan cheese is very nutritious. It’s wealthy in protein, ready-to-use fats, and vitamins that assist bone well being.

Here are a few of the advantages of consuming Parmesan cheese.

Naturally lactose-free

While lactose is a necessary a part of cheese making, Parmesan is nearly lactose-free.

Lactose is the primary sort of carb present in milk, however round 75% of the world’s inhabitants can’t digest it. This is because of a deficiency of lactase — an enzyme that helps you digest lactose by breaking it down into sugars, referred to as glucose and galactose (11).

As a outcome, folks with lactose intolerance might expertise diarrhea, stomach ache, flatulence, and bloating after ingesting it.

While milk accommodates about 5% lactose, it’s discovered within the whey — the water fraction. Thus, when whey is faraway from the curd throughout cheese manufacturing, the lactose is eliminated with it (2, 5).

As a outcome, Parmesan has a most lactose content material of 0.10 mg per 100 kcal of product. So, it’s thought-about fit for human consumption for these with lactose intolerance (1, 2, 12).

May assist bone well being

Calcium is probably the most ample mineral in your physique, and it performs a necessary function in bone health. In truth, about 99% of your physique’s calcium provide is saved in your bones for perform and construction assist (13).

Poor absorption or low intakes of this mineral can result in bone breakdown. This is when your physique depends on its bone reserves to keep up vital bodily features. In flip, it could possibly result in osteoporosis — a bone situation characterised by fragile bones (13).

As talked about, Parmesan cheese is an effective supply of calcium, with every serving offering 26% of the DV (7).

Thanks to its casein content material, the calcium in Parmesan additionally has a excessive bioavailability. This signifies that it’s simply absorbed by your physique. When casein is digested, it leaves mineral residues that improve the absorption of different minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc (1, 2).

Rich in simply digestible protein

Parmesan cheese gives giant quantities of top of the range proteins — proteins of excessive organic worth — as a result of it accommodates excessive concentrations of all essential amino acids (1, 2). And because it accommodates all important amino acids, it’s thought-about a whole protein.

Amino acids are the constructing blocks of protein. Essential amino acids are those that you could receive from the meals you eat as a result of your physique can’t produce them.

In addition to being top quality, Parmesan’s protein can be straightforward to digest.

During the maturation months, the proteins within the cheese bear a course of much like a pre-digestion. In different phrases, they’re damaged down into smaller compounds, like free amino acids, that your physique absorbs extra simply (1, 2).


Parmesan cheese is a lactose-free cheese that’s wealthy in calcium and simply digestible top quality protein.

Parmesan cheese is as versatile as it’s nutritious and could also be loved in meals starting from appetizers to desserts.

It’s sometimes offered shredded, grated, or in wedge-shaped blocks and is broadly stocked in shops and on-line.

Because its taste can fluctuate relying on the ripening time, it might pair higher with sure drinks or dishes relying on its maturity.

Some typical maturation durations and their advisable pairings are (14):

  • 12–19 months. These have a gentle, delicate taste with hints of fruit and yogurt. They’re primarily added to salads and chilly dishes and loved with glowing white wines.
  • 20–26 months. These are balanced cheeses and are loved in sauces, desserts, and conventional Italian dishes like soup and pasta.
  • 27–34 months. These sorts are fragrant with a pronounced taste. They pair nicely with baked pasta or fruits and honey for dessert.
  • 35–45 months. These are characterised by their intense taste and pair nicely with pink wine.


Adding Parmesan to your dishes might improve their taste and dietary profile. You might take pleasure in it in candy and savory dishes alike.

Since it’s a milk product excessive within the protein casein, Parmesan cheese could also be unsuitable for folks with casein allergy or cow’s milk allergy.

Casein allergy happens when the immune system assaults the casein ingested from milk or milk merchandise, leading to sturdy quick or delayed allergic reactions (15, 16).

Symptoms might embody (16):

  • rashes
  • pores and skin irritation
  • respiration points
  • bronchial asthma assaults
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • bronchial asthma assaults
  • anaphylactic shock

If you’re allergic to casein or cow’s milk, keep away from milk and milk merchandise — together with Parmesan cheese.


Parmesan cheese might trigger allergic reactions in folks with casein allergy or cow’s milk allergy and ought to be averted by these populations.

Parmesan is an aged cheese with a robust taste and crumbly texture produced in sure areas of Northern Italy.

It’s extremely nutritious and is usually a nice selection for folks with lactose intolerance, lacto-vegetarians, and people who are after easy-to-digest proteins. It may additionally assist bone well being.

However, it’s not appropriate for folks with a casein or cow’s milk allergy.

Parmesan cheese makes a scrumptious addition to candy and savory dishes. Find it in shops or on-line in blocks, shredded, or grated varieties.

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