Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Cheesey Post

This question came to me today via a comment:
Just found your site. Lots of good information here. Recently read Schwarzbein and she makes a lot of sense. But I'm grappling with her contention that aged cheese has harmful fats. Is this always true, or does it depend on the processing? Where can I find more information on this issue specifically?
Dear Reader,

I would tend to agree with you on the issue of damaged fat in cheese, having grappled with this myself. If you think about this, however, it may be that Dr. Schwarzbein is not accurate on this. On page 237 of The Schwarzbein Principle 2, she says, "Since most cheese is heat treated, which damages the fat contained in the cheese, all cheese should be used in moderation. In addition, aged cheeses are damaged fats. Whenever possible, choose white cheese over yellow. Most yellow cheeses are colored with artificial coloring."

In thinking this statement through, the first question I asked myself was, "What kind of fat is in the milk or cream that is to be made into cheese?" The answer: butterfat. Butterfat is predominantly saturated fat. Saturated fats are the best fats for tolerating heat. It is safe to cook in butter, coconut oil, lard, tallow, etc. since they are saturated and sustain the least amount of damage due to heat.

We eat butter without ever wondering if this fat has been damaged by the heat of pasteurization. The heating process of pasteurization, in fact, does not damage or make rancid the butter cream. This could only happen if the temperatures involved were extremely high so that the product smoked and burned. Obviously, this cannot be the case. The heat does, however, kill enzymes, alter amino acids, makes proteins less bio-available and reduce the amounts of calcium, vitamin C and other nutrients, but it does not damage the fat.

Of course, it only stands to reason that raw butter (as well as cheese) is still the most optimum choice as far as nutrition is concerned since heat is not involved and the product retains all the enzymes and nutrients. I quote from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, "Cheeses made from raw milk contain a full complement of enzymes and are therefore more easily digested than cheeses made from pasteurized milk."

Pasteurized cheeses have been consumed for many years. Raw milk cheese is a traditional food that has been consumed for thousands of years. (Now remember that I am not talking about processed cheeses here, like American cheese or those spreadable cheese-like substances that are full of preservatives, dyes, and chemicals to enhance flavor and texture. These fake cheeses should be avoided at all costs.)

So really, what this comes down to is that you shouldn't be afraid to buy and eat good cheese. The best to get is, of course, made from raw milk. The next best cheese is organic made from pasteurized milk and cream or at least from cows that have not been given the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbST).

I find raw milk sharp cheddar and Parmesan Reggiano, an aged cheese, at Trader Joe's (click here to find a Trader Joe's near you). Anytime I can find raw cheese at a decent price I opt for that rather than cheeses from pasteurized milk. But I do not hesitate buying cheese as long as it fits the bill mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

Another thing about Dianna Schwarzbein - I do know that since she wrote The Schwarzbein Principle 2, she has changed her stance on soy products (now does not recommend them at all) and now endorses raw milk and raw milk products. She may also have a better understanding of the topic of this post also.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed her book, I still read it and all other books in light of what the Weston A. Price Foundation teaches. In my opinion, they more closely align themselves with Biblical nutrition than any other source I know of (though they may not say it that way and are not a Christian organization).


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