Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Once I wrote a blog all about Parmesean Reggiano

And how having just one bite made me deliriously happy. I found this on the artisanal cheese
website. :)

Last Time We Asked: I hear that cheese makes you happy. I realize that cheese can offer a lot of pleasure in small bites, but how can it make you happy?

Answer: It begins with tyrosine, an amino acid found in relatively high concentrations in cheese. The Greek root "tyros", which means "cheese" is also the root of the word tyrophile or cheese lover. Amino acids are crucial to the proper functioning of the human body and brain, and our body has to get it from outside sources; it can't manufacture it on its own. Studies have shown that a tyrosine-deficient diet can lead to depression. Tyrosine has also shown to be helpful during periods of stress, fatigue, cold, prolonged work and sleep deprivation; and it appears to improve cognitive and physical performance, and can lead to better functioning in the workplace. Tyrosine is a building block for many of our brain's neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals through which our nerves communicate.

The main protein in cheese - casein - is broken down releasing tyrosine, which is quickly absorbed into our bloodstreams. Casein is also broken down into a casomorphin, which is an opioid - a "feel-good" chemical.

Most of the crystals found in well-aged cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano are crystallized tyrosine embedded within the long chains of amino acids comprising the casein molecules.

Probably one reason cheese makes you happy, even before you actually consume but only smell it, is because the aroma sends a signal to your olfactories letting you know that you're about to have some of those especially beneficial nutrients that are available in cheese.