A recent “GoodEats” online article offers advice on foods that can help defend us from the cooler season’s coughs, colds and the flu. I had to check to make sure that dairy was included in the short list. The entire onion family is recommended for its antioxidant called allicin, reported to fight bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections.
The article also recommends mushrooms for the elevated levels of zinc – which stimulates the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Zinc also happens to be found in milk, especially cow milk that has not been subjected to excessive heat treatment.
Wait! Why would pasteurization reduce the zinc levels in milk? It is because zinc is chelated (attached) to proteins, proteins that can be denatured by heat. Fortunately we carry many cow milk cheeses uncompromised by pasteurization.
The incredible edible egg is also recommended for its choline (in the B vitamin group, and also found in cheese), the anti-oxidant selenium (a varying though small amount in different cheeses too), and zinc. (See above.)
The beta carotene in orange colored vegetables is recommended for its ability to keep bacteria out of the blood stream. Goat milk, as well as the cheeses produced from goat milk, is another source of beta carotene. Sheep milk generally supplies a little less, depending the breed and the fodder, ditto for the cows.
Finally, the article recommends grapefruit, not only for the vitamin C content (sorry, virtually zero in cheese) and for the bioflavonoids (also lacking in cheese). All in all however, the cheese is looking like an excellent source for most of the other defenses against those cold weather challenges. A recipe in the article that follows the mention of eggs includes cheese as an ingredient. But does cheese get any credit?
Another nutrient the article could have mentioned is one that I have mentioned here before – lauric acid – which has been shown to be an effective bacteria killer and a virus killer, two causes for colds and flu. Coconut is a great source for lauric acid, dairy too.
There are combinations of nutrients in foods which can help keep us healthy, of course. A generous amount and variety of them are offered in cheese. If my job did not demand it I probably would not eat quite as much cheese as I do. I can’t recall when I last had a cold or the flu. There could be something about cheese (or many things) that is helping. Fortunately, I just love the stuff.