ARE HARD CHEESES SAFE TO EAT DURING PREGNANCY?

In this brief article, we will answer the questions, is hard cheese safe to eat while pregnant, what is hard cheese, what are the recommended types of cheese to eat while pregnant, and what are the benefits of eating cheese. We will also explore the nutrient composition of cheese, how it is made, and how it is prepared for consumption. 

Are hard cheeses safe to eat while pregnant?

Hard cheese is completely safe to eat while pregnant. If compared to soft cheese, it doesn’t contain mold, which may have microbial contaminants that threaten the fetus. 

Some of the hard cheese examples include cottage cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, paneer, halloumi, goat’s cheese, and processed cheeses such as cheese spreads.

What is hard cheese?

Cheese is an extracted element from dairy milk. Cheese comprises fats and proteins obtained from milk. They are classified according to texture, length of fermentation, fat content, animal milk and method of production. It is held together by the coagulation of the protein casein. 

Cheese is highly portable and has a very long shelf life. Hard cheese is cheese with low moisture content and is highly pressed. It is long-lasting as compared to soft cheese which has more moisture and is colonized by fungi and molds. 

What are the benefits of eating hard cheese?

It is rich in calcium. Calcium enhances bone density and structure. This makes them a suitable substitute for calcium supplements which may have adverse side effects on the fetus. Calcium also enhances bone growth in the fetus, making it healthier. 

Cheese is naturally rich in proteins. Milk is also rich in proteins. Proteins are the building block of the body. 

Regular consumption of hard cheese by pregnant women promotes good growth of the fetus and also helps in the fast repair of body tissues. 

Hard cheese also contains probiotics and vitamin B12.  Probiotics help in the breakdown of drugs and substances ingested in the body. 

They also help in limiting competition from pathogenic microbes. Vitamin B12 aids the body in enhancing the uptake of essential nutrients and minerals. 

What are the recommended cheeses for consumption by pregnant women?

Hard cheeses are the recommended cheeses for consumption by pregnant women. This is because they lack any microbial colonization by fungus and bacteria. 

They are also very well-aged and are hard. They also serve as quick snacks in times of a hunger urge.

Hard cheese examples include cottage cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, paneer, halloumi, goat’s cheese and processed cheeses such as cheese spreads. 

What is the nutrient composition of cheese?

Cheese contains large amounts of natural calcium, proteins, fats and vitamin B12. calcium aids in bone formation by increasing bone density and strengthening the bone structure. Fats serve as an alternate source of energy. 

 Proteins are building blocks of the body since they are made from amino acids. They help in the development of the fetus while repairing torn body tissues of the mother. Vitamin B12 aids the body in the absorption of essential nutrients such as zinc and iron. 

How is cheese made?

Cheese requires milk and starter bacterial cultures. Milk has the fat, and proteins that are required to make cheese. Bacterial starter cultures are bacterial species that are purely grown to help in the processing of milk for example Lactobacillus spp. This is by aiding in coagulation and adjusting the pH levels.  

The following steps are followed to make good cheese. They are:

Milk is standardized before cheese making. This optimizes the protein-to-fat ratio to maintain the quality of the cheese. The milk is pasteurized to sterilize it and improve the environment for the starter cultures to grow.

Milk is cooled after pasteurization, this is to provide a cool temperature that induces good growth of starter cultures. 

The starter cultures are held at  temperatures of 32°C for 30 minutes to ripen. The ripening step allows fermentation to begin, and also lowers the pH and induces the flavor of the cheese. 

The rennet enzyme is added and curd is formed. The curd is not tampered with until coagulation starts. The curd is fermented to a pH of 6.5. It is then cut into small pieces and heated at temperatures of 38°C. This helps in the separation of whey from the curd. 

The whey is drained and the resulting substance is called a mat. The mat undergoes cheddaring and salting. 

Cheese blocks are formed and aged to improve the flavor. After aging, they are well packaged and sold. 

How is cheese served?

Cheese can be gritted on food and served as a condiment. It is also found in sauce form and is used with delicacies such as hot dogs and hot pockets. Cheese is also used in making cheesecakes. 

Conclusion. 

.In this brief article, we have answered the questions, is hard cheese safe to eat while pregnant, what is hard cheese, what are the recommended types of cheese to eat while pregnant, and what are the benefits of eating cheese. We have also explored the nutrient composition of cheese, how it is made, and how it is prepared for consumption. 

Citations. 

https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/foods-to-avoid-when-pregnant#:~:text=You%20can%20eat%20hard%20cheeses,re%20made%20from%20pasteurised%20milk.
https://www.babycentre.co.uk/x3175/what-cheese-can-i-eat-during-pregnancy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_cheese
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheese
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299147
https://www.thermofisher.com/no/en/home/life-science/cell-culture/microbiological-culture/bacterial-growth-media.html

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.