Cheese & Nutrition

A responsible diet and balanced pleasure

Eat better to grow better, live better and age better: Bongrain invests in cutting-edge research and advanced technologies that improve products’ nutritional qualities whilst at the same time preserving their taste and texture.
Replacing cream with yoghurt and salt with milk salt, and developing spicy or fine herb aromas are natural ways of producing balanced and savoury products.

Recognised nutritional qualities

Milk, the raw material for cheese, contains many nutriments that the human organism can easily assimilate and which reinforce the body’s defences and regulate such vital functions as children’s growth, lifelong fixing of calcium in the bones and prevention of osteoporosis for elderly people.

Cheese provides proteins of excellent quality, minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and zinc, vitamins and trace elements.
It is one of the three or four dairy products per day recommended by nutritionists.

Depending on the type of cheese, the recommended serving of 30g per day can represent 20 to 33% of the daily calcium requirement and 10 to 15% of the recommended daily consumption of proteins.

A few reasons for eating cheese

  • Calcium is indispensable for the strength of bones and teeth and it plays a part in transmitting messages within the nervous system, governing muscle movement, blood clotting and the liberation of hormones.
  • Phosphorous associated with calcium for bones and teeth, plays a part in transporting and storing energy and regulating levels of acidity.
  • Proteins contribute to building and maintaining the body’s tissues. They comprise amino acids, eight of which can only be provided by certain specific sources of food including dairy products.
  • Vitamin A or retinol is essential to vision and also contributes to cell differentiation.
  • Vitamin B2 or riboflavin, plays a role in transforming nutrients into energy.
  • Vitamin B12, which combats stress and fatigue, is required for protein synthesis and cell multiplication.

How much fat content ?

For a long time, France required disclosure of the fat content of the dry matter contained in cheese. Since 2007, fat content is indicated in terms of the way the product is actually consumed.

What was noted before as 45% fat content may now be shown on the product’s wrapping as 21%. Depending on the type of cheese, a 30g portion may therefore have between 0 and 9g of fat content.

45% de MG sur produit déshydraté = 21% de MG sur produit fini

45% of fat in a “dried” product

Before 2007


21% of fat in a “finished” product, as actually consumed

After 2007

What about lactose ?

Almost all lactose is eliminated during the concentration process or transformed into lactic acid during the process of curdling and ageing.
Soft cheeses such as Camembert, Coulommiers or Caprice des Dieux, and hard cheeses such as Emmental or Fol Epi, thus contain virtually no lactose. This proportion rises to 2 to 3 % for fresh cheeses.

Can vegetarians eat cheese ?

Yes, because vegetarian diets can include eggs and dairy products. Only vegan diets systematically exclude all food of animal origin.

Bongrain promotes balanced diets, particularly for children (with the focus on preventing infantile obesity) and for senior citizens (to avoid malnutrition). This drives the Group's support for the Sapere les Classes du Goût charity, which provides educational materials to primary school teachers in several European countries.

Did you know ?

RDAs(Recommended Daily Amount) are different from RNIs (Recommended Nutrient Intakes):

  • RDAs are average amounts for all individuals, used in  food labelling in Europe
  • RNIs used in France are calculated for particular groups (children, adults, the elderly, etc.). 

For example :

RDA for calcium RNI for calcium
800 mg 900 mg for an adult

1200 mg for teenagers and the elderly (men over 65 and women over 55)



Base: 65 kg adult or 52 g of protein/day (RNI: 0.8 g per kg/day) 

Note: Nutritional needs may be expressed differently from country to country.

Cheese, helping prevent certain diseases1.

Until now, scientific research has focused on different dairy products and several types of cheese. Researchers have looked at the effects of eating these dairy products rather than the active ingredients they contain. This should be taken into account when interpreting the results of these studies.

Bone health. Generally, eating the right amount of calcium is linked to better bone health, both to aid growth in children and remineralisation for adults. According to the results of a study of people aged 50 and over, those who ate the most cheese saw the risk of hip fractures reduced by 60% compared with those who didn’t eat cheese at all. Calcium could play a role in this effect.

Tooth decay. Studies on humans have observed that eating cheese can prevent tooth decay. One way in which this takes place is through the minerals contained in cheese (mainly calcium and phosphorous) which prevent demineralisation of the teeth, and indeed contribute to reversing the process. Also, chewing cheese triggers the secretion of saliva and encourages a reduction in acidity (pH in the mouth increases after eating sweet foods, so chewing prevents the appearance of decay.) 

1reference: Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (“Institut des Nutraceutiques et des Aliments Fonctionnels »)

TABLE 57 Levels of certain nutrients in different types of cheese (per 100 g of cheese) 2

Types Proteins Fat Calcium Phosphorus Sodium
(g) (g)   (g) (g) (%)
Parmesan 36,5 26   13,0 8,5 2,1
Emmenthal 27,9 29 45 10,8 8,6 0,6
Tilsit 26,0 27,7 45 8,0 5,3 1,3
Cheddar 25,4 32,4 50 8,0 5,0 17
Edam 25,5 26,0 45 7,5 4,5 2,1
Gouda 25,4 29,0 45 82 4 4 2 1
Butter-cheese 21,1 29,0 50 6,9 4,2  
Blue 22,4 29,0 50 7,0 4,9  
Brie 22,4 23,0 50 4,0 4,0 2,1
Camembert 22,0 22,3 45 4,0 4,0 1,6
Limburger 22,4 19,7 40 5,7 3 0  
Romadour 23,2   30 5,1 3,0  
Feta 17,8 18,8 40 6,5 4,0 46
Cottage cheese 14,7 4,6 20 0,8 1,6 0,8
Fromage blanc 11,8 11,8 40 0,7 1,5  
Low-fat cheese 16,3     0,9 1,9  
Source : Renner, 1983

2reference: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation

Effects of fat transformation

Some flavours only develop if there is a sufficient proportion of fat (at least 40-50%), without which the scent-creating products of fat degradation do not form. This includes volatile fatty acids in particular (C2, C4, C6 and C8), which give cheese its smell. Some iso- or odd carbon number series acids (produced when certain amino acids degrade) or acetic acid (obtained by processing lactose) also play a role in producing the smell, thereby making the cheese as it should be. Storage often leads to an increased level of aromatic ingredients, affecting how attractive it is to consumers.

Most consumers enjoy high-fat cheeses because the fat enables the flavours to develop and be sustained. Finally, the fat in cheese is highly digestible (88 - 94 %).


The mineral aspect of cheese content is very interesting nutritionally. Calcium and phosphorous are found in higher quantities here than in milk. Their content is up to ten times greater in hard cheeses and up to four or five times in soft cheeses. Just two varieties “only” contain the equivalent quantities to milk: fromage frais and cottage cheese.

Cheese acts a “concentrator” for the minerals found in milk.

Mineral and trace element content of different varieties of cheese (mg/100g of product)

Element Parmesan Edam
Cheddar Gruyère Roquefort.
Cream Cottage
Calcium 1 1200 750 750 1000 650 400 95 65
Magnesium 45 35 30 45 30 20 8 6
Sodium 1110 900 650 500 1300 1000 320 420
Potassium 120 120 100 90 90 130 130 70
Phosphorus 800 500 500 600 390 300 110 150
Trace elements
Iron 1 0,4 0,5 0,3 0,1 0,2-0,8 0,1 0,1
Zinc 4 3 3 2 2 3 0,6 0 5
Copper 0 3 <01 0,1 0,1 0,1 <0,1-0,6 0,1 <0,1


A proportion of the phosphorous (one fifth) is retained through the soluble phase of the cheese and the content increases during maturation. Only processed cheeses with added phosphates and a few rare fresh cheeses contain more phosphorous than calcium. Finally, cheese is good from a nutritional point of view, with a high calcium/phosphorus ratio.

Levels of magnesium vary from one cheese to another, as with calcium. However these variations are more or less wide-ranging: five times more magnesium in hard cheeses than in milk, and just two to three times more in soft cheeses.

As for sodium, the content can vary widely from one cheese product to another (from 0.4 to 4.6 g/100 g). This variation is due to inconsistent addition of sodium (salting). In some countries (such as Iran and Turkey), added salt can account for up to 10 % of the weight of the finished product stored in brine. These products are desalted before eating.

Balanced diet

Cheese is high in fat - true or false ?

Fatty acids or "good fat"

Animal and vegetable fats are mainly made up of lipids that are themselves composed of fatty acids.

Fat is essential to our bodies, especially enabling the brain and nervous system to function properly.

Fatty acids can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. 

  • Saturated fatty acids: the body is able to produce these 
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: the body is able to make these but cannot meet all its needs without dietary assistance 
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids include two families, omega 6 and omega 3: the body cannot make these essential fatty acids, so we have to provide them through our diet. 

What role do these polyunsaturated fatty acids play in our bodies?

Fatty Acids Roles in the body Examples of dietary sources
Omega 6
Reproduction, Maintaining the epidermis (skin), coagulation of the blood, lowering bad cholesterol (LDL), supporting the body’s defences (immune system, inflammation), etc..

Sunflower oil, corn


Meat, eggs, mothers’ milk

Omega 3
Vision, Brain development, Fluidifying the blood

+ EPA and DHA: lowering of blood triglycerides

Colza (rape seed), soya, linseed and walnut oils


Oily fish (salmon, tuna, etc.) and marine animals, mothers’ milk



Nutritional value of different types of milk

Cow's milk, sheep's milk and goat's milk all have the same nutritional benefits :
False !

Sheep’s milk contains the most energy (most fat, carbohydrates and proteins), whilst cow’s milk is the least rich of the three examined. In fact, cow’s milk is the least rich in: magnesium, phosphorous, calcium and retinol (but the richest in beta carotene), vitamins D, C, B3 and B6. Conversely, it is the richest in vitamins B5 and sodium.
Goat’s milk is in between the two, but is particularly rich in potassium.

(per 100g of product)
Goat's milk Sheep's milk Cow's milk whole UHT
Energy kcal 65 100 63
Water g 87.5 82.1 87.8
Protein g 3.4 5.6 3.2
Carbohydrate g 4.4 5.2 4.6
Fat g 3.8 6.4 3.5
SFA* g 2.5 4.1 2.2
MUFA** g 0.9 1.6 1.1
PUFA*** g 0.1 0.3 0.11
Cholesterol mg 11 11 14
Sodium mg 45 40 45
Magnesium mg 14 16 10
Phosphorous mg 103 141 86
Potassium mg 185 146 148
Calcium mg 120 183 119
Iron mg 0.1 0.1 0.1
*SFA: Saturated fatty acids
**MUFA : Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
***PUFA : Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids


Cultural diversity

Reducing salt and sodium levels is a Europe-wide concern

Salt is a natural product, sought out and appreciated by man. Plutarch said “salt transforms a necessary food into a pleasant one”.
The minimum required for survival is 0.5 g per day and a balanced diet with no added salt provides this. To ensure a safety margin, the physiological intake is around 2 g.

The world’s specialists in hypertension and cardio-vascular disease are unanimous when it comes to the harm caused by salt to the whole population, regardless of age. (Paris Congress 2005 “Salt and Health”)

  • In Great Britain, the government has demanded that manufacturers reduce sodium intake by 30%.
  • In Finland, mandatory “High Salt Content” wording on certain foods has forced manufacturers to lower the salt content of their products to avoid the negative impact this label has.
  • In the United States, food product labelling must include salt content.
  • In France, Afssa (the French Food Safety Agency) has suggested lowering average salt consumption by 25% over 5 years, a 4% annual decrease.

National food safety agencies and nutrition institutions in EU member states and Norway recognise that in most countries salt intake is a major public health concern and that current scientific data shows this intake should be significantly decreased. 

Each country has set its own targets, which have an average intake of:
- 8 g per day in France
- 6 g per day in the UK, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Denmark
- 5 to 6 g per day in Sweden
- 5 g per day in Norway and Greece
- 3 to 5 g per day in Finland.

Examples of public health overseas :

As an example, average salt consumption in Finland has fallen from 14 g/day in 1970 to less than 10 g today. Equally, there has been a noticeable lowering in arterial blood pressure and a spectacular fall in fatalities due to strokes and heart attacks. The reduction of salt intake has of course been accompanied by other initiatives for healthier living (better nutrition and anti-smoking drives, etc.).
In the 1950s, salt consumption in Belgium was between 20 and 30 g/day. After a number of public information campaigns, it had fallen to 10 g/day in 1980. There again, a significant fall in arterial blood pressure was noted.

Coraya Products

Coraya Products are healthy, natural fish-based products.

Thanks to their protein content and fat and carbohydrate levels, Coraya products can make a genuine nutritional and dietary contribution. Containing just 130 calories per 100g, or around 3 times less than a Frankfurter sausage or hamburger (over 300 calories per 100g), Coraya surimi are ideal for a healthy, balanced diet.

Another nutritional benefit is to be gained from amino acids.

Thanks to their B12 vitamin and mineral content, Coraya specialities are also good for promoting children’s growth.

Average nutritional values for 100g of Coraya specialities

Energy : 130 Kcal
Proteins ............................... 8g = 16% of RNI*
Carbohydrates ............................... 11,7g
- of which sugars 1,6g
- of which starch 8g
Fat ............................... 5,5g
Iodine ............................... 30µg = 20% of RDA**

*Reference Nutrient Intake   **Recommended Daily Amount