Spanish scientists manage to eliminate cholesterol from sheep cheese without altering its flavor
Manchego cured cheese, made from sheep's milk, usually has between 30 and 50% fat. It is, because of this, a very caloric cheese (about 400 calories per 100 grams) whose consumption, in addition, is not recommended for people with high cholesterol. But it is something that could change soon.
A group of researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has managed to reduce the cholesterol present in pasteurized sheep's cheese milk by 97%.
As the authors of the study, which has been published in the journal Molecules, the key lies in treating the product with a non-toxic molecule, beta-cyclodextrin, whose use in food applications had already been described in previous studies. Specifically, this cyclic oligosaccharide produced from starch would effectively remove cholesterol from milk and dairy products, egg yolk, and lard.
“The objectives of this study have been to evaluate the viability of this compound in the elimination of cholesterol from pasteurized sheep's milk from Manchego cheese. We have also studied its effect on the main components of milk, nutritional components, lipids, and flavor ", explains Leocadio Alonso, researcher at the CSIC at the Institute of Dairy Products of Asturias, in the statement presenting the study.
Possible applications in numerous products
As Alonso explains, to date the food industries have developed many methods to lower cholesterol; however, most are relatively selective and also eliminate taste and nutritional components. "That is why our results are promising", adds the CSIC researcher.
The work - in which scientists from the Food Science Research Institute (mixed center of the CSIC and the Autonomous University of Madrid) and the University College Cork (Ireland) have also participated - could be applied in the design of diets who need a regulated intake of cholesterol, especially in people with hypercholesterolemia. The next step would be to evaluate the effect of this already treated cheese on blood cholesterol concentrations.
The process, moreover, is not only used to reduce the cholesterol in cheese. Although further research is necessary, it could also be used in other dairy products, such as butters and liquid creams.
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