Parmigiano Reggiano is good for our digestive system

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The prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications has published a study confirming that Parmesan cheese enriches the microbiota residing in the human gastrointestinal tract.  The study coordinated by Professors Marco Ventura and Francesca Turroni of the University of Parma, aimed towards understanding the ecological origins and composition of the microbial communities of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano is a completely natural, healthy, and authentic product containing no additives or preservatives and is produced without any thermal treatments as it is made from unpasteurised, raw milk. The cheese, consequently, gives consumers the fragrances and flavours of the fodder eaten by the cows and of the milk used to make Italy’s most famous cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano is therefore not only produced by 330 dairies, but also by science.

Parmigiano Reggiano is closely linked to its area of origin: the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua. It is a PDO product that owes its success to its age-old history, but also to the ideal microclimate in its production region that helps make this cheese so unique.

The study by the University of Parma has proven for the first time that Parmigiano Reggiano, as a vector of microbial strains that enrich the human gut microbiota, plays an important role as a functional food in the human diet.

The study was conducted by the Laboratory of Probiogenomics, Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, and by the “Microbiome Research Hub” Interdepartmental Research Centre, alongside the participation of a research group from the University of Parma.

This research project has made it possible to reconstruct a comprehensive profile of the microbiota of Parmigiano Reggiano.

The data obtained demonstrated the existence of bacteria that are transmitted from cow milk to humans during the consumption of Parmigiano Reggiano.

It highlights that consuming Parmigiano Reggiano not only plays an important nutritional role in the human diet – as has already been amply demonstrated – but also provides health benefits produced by the transmission of microorganisms capable of modulating and enriching human gut microbiota.

The study opens up a serious scientific debate about the origin of some types of bacteria considered unique to certain foods, therefore called food bacteria, and lays out the scientific foundation regarding their environmental origin and their transmission through the food chain.

Although the research is still ongoing, it can certainly be concluded that Parmigiano Reggiano enriches our microbiota with microorganisms that are beneficial to the gastrointestinal tract. However, in the future studies may go even further, as the presence of these microorganisms may have additional health benefits, considering the central role attributed to the gut as far as human well-being and health are concerned.

Discover more:

Parmigiano Reggiano by the numbers

  • 5 litres of milk make 1 kg of cheese
  • 24 months is the average ageing of the wheels, with 12 months being the minimum
  • 5 kg is the weight of a wheel
  • 520 litres of milk to make one wheel
  • 2,893 farms supplying milk to dairies
  • 335 dairies
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