This is how useful cheese turns into a harmful product

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July 30, 2022, 12:31 | Medicine

In general, cheese is a useful product.

This is how healthy cheese turns into a harmful product

Many recipes for dishes with cheese involve heat treatment. At the same time, the cheese melts, and its taste changes a little – usually, it becomes richer. This happens due to the fact that water evaporates, as a result, the concentration of salt and fats increases. This is partly why many people love pizza and cheeseburgers, informs Ukr.Media.

However, the health benefits of cheese decrease when it melts, and in some cases it even becomes harmful. One of the reasons is that heating inactivates enzymes that help digestion.

To begin with, let's understand what enzymes are in cheese and where they come from.

Most quality cheeses are rennet. They got this name because rennet enzyme is used for their production. This enzyme is used to coagulate milk to separate proteins from whey. Due to such manipulation, the process of cheese production is greatly accelerated, and for this it is not necessary to add synthetic, harmful chemical compounds to milk.

Renase enzyme is produced in the stomach of ruminants, by special rennet glands. It helps calves digest milk.

Classically, this enzyme is obtained from the stomach of young calves. But there are more humane ways. For example, some microscopic fungi can synthesize the necessary enzymes.

Many plants also contain enzymes suitable for the production of milk, and they have been used since ancient times. For example, if you read Homer's Iliad, you can find there a mention of how the Greeks made cheese with the juice of fig leaves.

Some modern cheesemakers use enzymes from artichoke, nettle, ivy, mallow, and nightshade juice.

The most modern technologies are offered by genetic engineering. No matter how many people are afraid of the word “GMO”, there is nothing terrible about it – certainly in the case of cheese production. The point is that scientists insert a gene from a calf's stomach into the DNA of a bacterium, and it begins to synthesize the necessary enzyme.

The main component of rennet is the enzyme rennin. Another name is chymosin. Its precursor, prorennin, is first produced in the stomach of calves. Under the influence of hydrochloric acid, it turns into a full-fledged enzyme and acts on the protein in milk – caseinog. As a result, it splits and turns into insoluble casein.

Casein is stored in the stomach for a very long time. Another enzyme, pepsin, is added to break it down. It is also a part of rennet, but it is not needed for cheese production. Therefore, the more chymosin and the less pepsin in the product, the better it is considered.

The task of pepsin in the stomach is to split a long chain of protein molecules into shorter ones. Later, in the intestines, they are broken down into individual amino acids. The body assimilates them and uses them to synthesize its own proteins.

But the complex of enzymes contained in cheese is not limited to these two compounds. For example, it also contains lipase. In humans, it is produced by the pancreas and enters the duodenum.

This enzyme, together with bile acids, dissolves and breaks down fats, bile acids, water-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).

Many enzymes are secreted in cheese by lactic acid bacteria. Also, these microorganisms emit gas, due to which holes are formed.

Rennin enzyme is not produced in adults. In our body, substances contained in milk are broken down by pepsin and lipase. And since they are also present in cheese, this product can be used as a digestif. A piece of cheese after a meal helps to improve digestion.

So, in humans, pepsin is produced in the stomach, and lipase and trypsin (another enzyme that breaks down proteins) are produced in the pancreas. An additional dose of pepsin and lipase, however small, is beneficial. After all, they play a key role in the breakdown of the main nutrients — fats and proteins.

With modern "western" type of food, the load on the pancreas increases greatly. There are not enough enzymes to properly digest all food. As a result, many people are bothered by heaviness in the stomach, a feeling of discomfort, bloating, diarrhea after eating. Digestion worsens, and the whole body suffers from this. These symptoms knock a person out of everyday life, poor health and increased fatigue become constant companions. And over time, if you constantly eat a lot of foods rich in fats, the pancreas may develop inflammation – pancreatitis.

Many people take pancreatic enzyme preparations to improve digestion. The enzymes in the cheese help too.

Now let's see what happens to the enzymes in the cheese when it is heated.

The properties of any protein depend not only on the order amino acids are located in it. Its spatial configuration also plays a role — that is, how the structure of the molecule looks in three-dimensional space, how it is folded.

When the temperature rises, the spatial structure of proteins is disturbed. Imagine a ball of woolen yarn, from which a grandmother knits a sweater. It is rolled up correctly and therefore it is easy to unroll, it is convenient to work with it. And if a cat decides to play with this ball, it will turn it into a tangled, shapeless mass. You can't knit a sweater like this. At least you have to untangle it first.

The same thing happens with enzymes when heated. Their molecules are no longer folded correctly and cannot perform their functions. This process is called denaturation.

For example, lipase denatures already at 45°C. Protease is denatured at 55°C. Cheese stops working as a digestive.

So, minus one useful property. But the matter is not limited to this. At the same time, lactic acid bacteria are destroyed, moisture evaporates. However, there remains a lot of fat, sodium and other trace elements.

Sometimes cheese is figuratively called extremely concentrated milk. So, by the same logic, a heated and melted product is concentrated natural cheese. Its calorie content increases.

Sometimes it is useful. For example, if a sick person has lost his appetite, and he needs to be fed in such a way that the body receives the maximum amount of calories with the minimum amount of food.

But for people who suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, excess calories are extremely undesirable. And for healthy people too. Of course, if you eat a pizza or a cheeseburger tonight, nothing bad will happen. But it is often not recommended to indulge yourself in this way – it is not at all useful for health.

It turns out that heating in a certain sense “overturns” properties of cheese from useful to harmful. Instead of helping the pancreas at least a little, it puts an additional burden on it.

In addition, it is worth remembering that, in addition to melted cheese, fast food also consists of other products rich in fats and added sugars.

In general, cheese is, of course, a useful product, and it should be included in the diet. But it is better to eat it raw.

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