Is mozzarella cheese healthy? Nutrition, health benefits, and recipes

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Mozzarella cheese originates from Italy, and it’s traditionally made from the Italian Mediterranean buffalo breed. This breed is now rare and mostly herded in Italy and Bulgaria.

Most mozzarella cheese sold in stores and supermarkets is made from cow’s milk instead.  If you want to try the traditional variety, look for ‘mozzarella di buffala’ on the product labels. 

You may be wondering what it tastes like right? If you’ve never tried this type of cheese before then there are only a few words that come to mind – silky, soft, and mild.

In this post, we will cover the nutrition of mozzarella cheese, health benefits, delicious recipes, and most commonly asked questions.

Mozzarella Cheese nutrition and calories per 100g

This type of cheese has a protein content of 30%, a carb content of 3%, and fat content of 34% of which 65% is saturated fat, making it suitable for low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet or high-protein diets.

If you were to eat 100g of mozzarella cheese which contains 300 calories then you can perform the following activities to burn the calories off if you are trying to lose weight:

  • Walking at 3mph for 81 minutes or
  • Running at 6mph for 29 minutes or
  • Cycling at 10mph for 42 minutes

How is mozzarella cheese made? Method and tips

The method of making mozzarella, both in a factory and at home, is called pasta filata. This is a method of directly heating and stretching the curd until forming the cheese. Curd is a dairy product that is mainly made up of casein protein. Have you ever opened a yoghurt container to find cloudy water on top? That is casein protein.

This process is usually carried out by specialised mixers in factories, but it can also be carried out by hand at home. The curd is then submerged in hot water, softening the structure.

The pliable curd is then stretched to align the strands of casein protein. These strands are then mixed with fat pockets and other ingredients such as whey protein and water in between.

Curd can reach temperatures of 55-70°C during pasta filata. These temperatures can deactivate enzymes and reduce bacterial culture activity in the cheese. This will extend the shelf life and functional properties too.

4 Tips for making mozzarella cheese

1. Use full fat milk

Use full-fat, unhomogenized milk, which is ideal for some stretching and melting requirements. You won’t get the same results if you use a particular form of milk or one that has been homogenised because the proteins in homogenised milk have been altered during processing.

2. Use fresh milk

Fresh milk should be used to ensure that the cheese is not acidic, as this can affect the ph levels and stretchiness. Be sure to use cheese with a ph of approximately 5.2. If you do want to use milk that has been sitting around for a few days, use ph strips to check the ph levels. if they are higher than the ideal level then you can add lemon juice or white vinegar to alter them.

3. Ensure to use appropriate temperature for curding

The curd’s temperature will make or break the cheese (not literally, but you get the idea!) Before you submerge the curd, make sure the temperature is between 70 and 77 degrees Celsius.

4. Use a wooden spoon and gloves

When the curd is submerged in the water, you need to stretch it. It is best to use gloves and a wooden spoon to avoid burning your hands.

6 Different types of mozzarella cheese

1. Fior di Latte Mozzarella

Fior di latte mozzarella, which means “flower of the milk,” is a classic, traditional mozzarella. It has a sweet, light, and delicate flavour with an elastic texture and is made with fresh whole cow’s milk.

2. Mozzarella Di Buffala

Mozzarella di Bufala, made from the milk of water buffalo, has a tangier and sweeter taste than typical fior di latte mozzarella. It’s popular as a pizza topping due to its creaminess, but it’s also delicious on its own!

3. Bocconcini

Bocconcini, which means “tiny mouthfuls,” are smaller, bite-sized mozzarella balls that are ideal for tossing into salads or eating whole with fresh basil and tomato.  

4. Burrata Cheese

Burrata is a stretched mozzarella cheese filled with cream-soaked stracciatella that originated in Puglia in a small town in the province of Bari. This type of cheese is much thicker and creamier than mozzarella and has a looser feel than mozzarella. 

5. Nodini

This hand-shaped knot of mozzarella has a smooth, glossy surface with a lovely texture. These little knots are perfect for serving during festive occasions or family dinners because of their elegant appearance.

6. Stracciatella

This type of mozzarella is incredibly creamy and sweet! Stracciatella is made with shreds of mozzarella curds and fresh milk, and gets its name from the Italian word straccia, which means “rag” or “shred.” It’s perfect for sprinkling on top of bread or mixing into pasta.

Is mozzarella cheese healthy?

Mozzarella cheese is one of the healthiest cheeses on the market alongside feta and cottage cheese.

This cheese contains probiotic that have shown to improve gut health, strengthen immune system and reduce inflammation.

Health benefits of mozzarella

Mozzarella contains probiotics that possess a number of healthful properties [1] [2].

1. Improves gut health

A 2016 study performed on students who suffered from stomach pain and cramping as a result of exam stress found that a probiotic (Lactobacillus casei) found in mozzarella reduces stress-related abdominal symptoms like excess gas and cramping. The research suggests that this probiotic regulates gut bacteria and the microbiome promoting better gut health [3].

2. May help manage diabetes better

Type 2 diabetes is a condition greatly affected by gut bacteria, and therefore consuming probiotics like the one in mozzarella can help manage diabetes better.

A 2019 study demonstrated that consuming the probiotic found in mozzarella cheese may be an effective method of managing diabetes. It was found that blood sugar levels, insulin concentration, and resistance were decreased after taking these probiotics [4].

3. May strengthen your immune system

The probiotics found in mozzarella can strengthen the immune system and help fight infections.

A 2010 study found that consuming these probiotics may significantly reduce the risk of illnesses that may derive from the gut microbiome [4] [5] [6].

4. May reduce inflammation

A number of studies show probiotics to reduce inflammation and help manage problems with joints [7] [8].

Healthy recipes with mozzarella cheese

Most commonly asked questions

What are some vegetarian-friendly substitutes for mozzarella cheese?

There are a number of vegetarian cheese alternatives that taste very similar to mozzarella. Vegan mozzarella substitutes are quite difficult to come by but dairy-free mozzarella cheeses include Violife, Miyoko’s, and Earth Grown.

Mozzarella alternatives:

  • Provolone
  • Oaxaca
  • Gouda
  • Ricotta
  • Feta

Which mozzarella cheese is best, cow or buffalo?

Both actually taste very similar with very slight differences. The buffalo mozzarella is creamier, softer and more flavourful.

How to use mozzarella cheese in a sandwich?

Mozzarella goes really well with tomatoes and avocado. You can chop up either cherry tomatoes and avocados and sprinkle mozzarella on top. You can then have it as a sandwich or toast it up!

What is a rennet substitute?

If you’re thinking on making your own mozzarella but you don’t want to use rennet, then you can use substitutes like vinegar or lemon juice instead.

Can you freeze mozzarella?

You can freeze both blocks and grated mozzarella.

How to make mozzarella cheese sticks?

These are actually very simple to make. Firstly, cut the mozzarella cheese into stick-like blocks. Then, dip them into egg and roll them in breadcrumbs. However, make sure to roll them in breadcrumbs a few times get a good coating. Once you’ve done that, simply freeze the sticks for a couple hours and deep fry them for around 35 minutes.

Is it gluten-free?

It does not appear to be gluten free. However, always check food labels. You can read more on this here.

Can you eat it raw?

You can eat this type of cheese cooked or raw. If you are pregnant, make sure it is pasteurised.

Summary

To summarise, mozzarella cheese originates from Italy, and it’s traditionally made from the Italian Mediterranean buffalo breed. However, modern cheese is made mostly from cow’s milk, and both provide a number of health benefits like managing type 2 diabetes, strengthen the immune system and improve gut health.

This type of cheese is one of the healthiest cheeses on the market as it contains a number of vitamins and minerals as well as probiotics. You can eat it raw or cooked, depending how you prefer it.

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