Monday, February 11, 2013

The Digestibility of Cheese

From "The Book of Cheese", 1918.

Although it has been a staple food with many races for uncounted years, there is a widespread belief that cheese is suitable for use chiefly in small quantities as an accessory to the diet, and that in large quantities it is likely to produce physiological disturbances. The question of digestibility was made the subject of a special investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Calorimeter experiments were made to test the digestibility of several varieties of cheese and some of these varieties at various stages of ripening. All forms of cheese were found to be digested as completely as most of the usual forms of food. Approximately 90 per cent of the nitrogenous portion (casein) was retained in the body. Unripe cheese in these experiments was apparently digested as completely as the ripened forms.

These experiments make clear the possibility of making cheese a more prominent article in the regular dietary than is usual in America. They especially point to the desirability of the use of the skim and partially skim cheeses, which as cheap sources of protein when properly combined with other foods, may be made to replace meats as a less costly source of proteins.

Cheese is then to be classed with meat and eggs, not with condiments. An ounce of Cheddar cheese roughly is equivalent to one egg, to a glass of milk, or to two ounces of meat. It is properly to be combined with bread, potatoes and other starchy foods, lacking in the fat in which the cheese is rich.

These experiments included Roquefort, fresh-made and ripe Cheddar, Swiss, Camembert and Cottage cheese.

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