The first documented reference to the production of feta was in Greece, in the 8th century (BC). The technology described in Homer’s Odyssey to create this cheese from sheep’s and goat’s milk is actually similar to the method that modern shepherds employ. Popular in ancient Greece, feta cheese was vital to Greek gastronomy.
However, what we now consider feta was recorded for the first time in the Byzantine Empire under the name “pròsphatos” which means “fresh”. The storage and marketing of the brine by an Italian visitor on the island of Crete was explained later.
Cheese is a delicious addition to many dishes, but with the increasing popularity of processed dairy products, it has become a product that many people avoid when they follow a healthy diet.
7 properties of the Greek feta
Made of milk from sheep or goat (often combined together), feta cheese is a rich choice of nutrients to get the flavor you are looking for, without guilt. Greek feta is easier to digest and much less allergenic and inflammatory than cheeses from cow’s milk, which is encouraging for those of you who may be sensitive to dairy products.
Like most food, it is much better natural. If possible, avoid feta cheese made with pasteurized milk . It is also important to remember that feta has a high sodium and saturated fat content, should be used sparingly, and not every day.
- Useful against anemia
L ‘ anemia is connected to a problem with the hemoglobin cell that carries oxygen throughout the body. When the body is unable to bring enough oxygen to the cells and tissues, it becomes weak and fatigued.
Associated with low levels of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12, anemia can be treated naturally with certain foods and food supplements. Therefore, vitamin B12 (and a small amount of iron) found in feta cheese can serve as part of a diet to fight anemia
- Helps keep the intestines healthy
Another good thing about the properties of feta cheese is that it provides useful probiotics! Probiotics are the bacteria that balance the intestine. When they are not in balance, the body becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, yeasts, fungi, parasites and many other unpleasant things ( 1 ).
Not only are probiotics immune protectors, but they allow you to maintain a healthy bowel and prevent many common digestive problems in high-stress lifestyles, especially in people who regularly consume GMO, sweetened food and are exposed to antibiotics and other products dangerous chemicals.
- Protects against cancer
One of the most intriguing advantages about the nutritional property of feta? It is the protective effect against cancer. As a rich source of calcium, feta allows you to take advantage of research that suggests that calcium (combined with vitamin D) helps protect the body against various types of cancer ( 2 ).
Don’t forget that magnesium is essential for calcium absorption. If you have a magnesium deficiency , your body does not absorb calcium properly, which means you will not get its full health benefits.
But it’s not just calcium in feta cheese that protects against cancer! The alpha-lactalbumin protein that can be found in this Greek cheese, when it binds to calcium and zinc ions, has been seen to have antibacterial and anticancer properties.
- Prevents headaches, including migraines
Feta is a good resource of vitamin B2 or “Riboflavin”. Vitamin B2 has long been known as a natural remedy for both headaches and migraines. (5) A diet rich in vitamin B2 (and Riboflavin supplements, if necessary) can serve as a preventive method to limit migraines and other types of chronic headaches.
- Protects the eyes and prevents degenerative eye disease
Riboflavin is good for more than one part of the body! Studies show that people whose diets are rich in vitamin B2 have a low risk of degenerative eye diseases such as cataracts, keratoconus and glaucoma (all associated with aging).
- Strengthens bone health
You probably already know that calcium is good for your bones. After all, who hasn’t heard of the “eat milk” campaign of the 1990s? However, countries with high dairy consumption also have high rates of osteoporosis – so what’s happening is that feta cheese could be one of the answers to the question of calcium and milk?
First of all, it’s true – calcium supports bones. The peak in bone mass increases, especially in children and adolescents up to the age of twenty. The higher the peak of your bone mass, the lower the risk of osteoporosis and other conditions that result in bone loss.
However, milk can damage bones, such as pasteurized cow’s milk, which is one of the worst foods to get the most calcium from, due to its habit of causing acidosis (a high level of acid in the body). Instead, find other foods rich in calcium (such as feta), and try introducing more alkaline foods into your diet, such as parsley, spinach and courgettes
- Improves the immune system
Another protein found in feta cheese is called histidine. This protein was initially considered important only in infant health, but was later found to be essential even in adults ( 3 ).
When histidine is combined with Vitamin B6 (also found in feta cheese), it undergoes a molecular process to become histamine. That compound is part of the inflammatory process. Although it is generally important to avoid food that causes inflammation from one’s diet , a low degree of inflammation is what allows the immune system to fight the disease.
By eating foods like feta cheese sparingly, combined with a diet high in antioxidants to protect against the damage of excess inflammation, it can guarantee a healthy immune system ready to fight the disease as it was originally designed. (Also, feta contains probiotics that help the immune system fight infection and disease!)
Nutritional values and calories:
The name “feta” is used by the Greeks to describe this extremely popular cheese, derived from the Italian word “slice”. While the European Union has now given a specific qualification to feta cheese, it can be found in other parts of the world produced with cow’s or buffalo’s milk.
Feta is a pickled cheese characterized by few to no holes, with a pungent taste and no crust. The nutritional properties of feta will depend exactly on what type of feta is obtained. Traditional feta is produced both from pure sheep’s milk and from a combination of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk (and no more than 30% goat’s milk).
A portion of Greek feta cheese (about 28 grams in weight) has the following nutritional characteristics:
- 74 calories
- 6 grams of fat
- 260 mg sodium
- 1.2 g carbohydrates
- 4 g proteins
- 1 g sugar
- 0.2 mg Riboflavin / vitamin B2 (14% DV)
- 140 mg calcium (14% DV)
- 312 mg sodium (13% DV)
- 94 mg phosphorus (9% DV)
- 0.5 micrograms Vitamin B12 (8% DV)
- 0.1 mg Vitamin B6 (6% DV)
- 4.2 micrograms selenium (6% DV)
The European controversy
It is interesting to note, that feta cheese has been a source of legal battle in recent decades. Within the European Union, Denmark had created, at a certain point, what they called “feta cheese”, but produced from cow’s milk. Since 2002 the resolution of this case has been reported, the European Union has judged the term “feta” as a “product of controlled origin” of Greece.
Another recent agreement in 2013 between the European Union and Canada protects the use of the name “feta cheese”, except when referring to the sheep / goat milk cheese imported from Greece. Canadian producers are now obliged to label their product similar to feta cheese.
These controversies originate mainly from the argument that the specific breeds of sheep and goats within Greece are what give the original feta its distinctive aroma and flavor.
The use of Greek feta in the kitchen
It is a food generally used as a garnish in salads or other types of food. Raw or cooked feta can be used. Many recipes require crumbled feta, but there are also recipes for using sliced feta.
One of the best recipes with feta is the roasted beet salad. It is a simple salad with beets rich in antioxidants, using feta as a garnish.
Contraindications and warnings:
While this dish is significantly less allergenic than cheese derived from cow’s milk, it is still possible to be allergic to goat’s or sheep’s milk. About 90% of people with an allergy diagnosed with cow’s milk also find that their body recognizes the same proteins in goat’s milk.
However, if you are sensitive but not allergic to cow’s milk, you will probably find products like feta to be a great alternative!
Another potential precaution when consuming feta is for those people who suffer from histamine intolerance. Histamine is a vital protein in small doses to help the body fight infection, but too much causes excess inflammation. People who suffer from histamine intolerance, unlike many people, it is difficult for them to break down histamine, when high levels are found in the body, they can have symptoms like those of allergy when they consume food that contains histamine protein.
If you have symptoms such as hives, sweating or swelling after consuming feta cheese or other products with goat / sheep milk, stop consuming it and consult your doctor immediately