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Mediterranean milk and milk products


Milk and dairy products are part of a healthy Mediterranean diet which, besides cow’s milk, also consists of sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo’s milk—alone or as a mixture—as raw material. The fat and protein composition of the milk of the various animal species differs only slightly, but in every case it has a high priority in human nutrition. The milk proteins are characterized by a high content of essential amino acids. Beyond that macromolecules,which have various biological functions, are available or may be formed by proteolysis in milk. Taking this into consideration, the technology of different well-known Italian and German cheese types is presented and the differences as well as correspondences regarding nutrition are discussed.

Especially Ricotta and Mascarpone are discussed in detail. Ricotta represents a special feature as this cheese is traditionally made of whey and cream. Thus the highly valuable whey proteins which contain a higher amount of the amino acids lysine, methionine and cysteic acid in comparison to casein and, additionally, to soy protein, are made usable for human nutrition. Finally, it is pointed out on the basis of individual examples that technologies to enrich whey proteins in cheese are already available and in use. Thus, the flavor of low fat cheese is improved and the nutritional value is increased.

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Correspondence to Jörg Hinrichs.

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Hinrichs, J. Mediterranean milk and milk products. Eur J Nutr 43, i12–i17 (2004).

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Key words

  • milk
  • cheese
  • technology
  • whey protein
  • fat replacement