Characterization of major and trace minerals, fatty acid composition, and cholesterol content of Protected Designation of Origin cheeses

C. L. Manuelian, S. Currò, M. Penasa, M. Cassandro, M. De Marchi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Cheese provides essential nutrients for human nutrition and health, such as minerals and fatty acids (FA). Its composition varies according to milk origin (e.g., species and breed), rearing conditions (e.g., feeding and management), and cheese-making technology (e.g., coagulation process, addition of salt, ripening period). In recent years, cheese production has increased worldwide. Italy is one of the main producers and exporters of cheese. This study aimed to describe mineral, FA, and cholesterol content of 133 samples from 18 commercial cheeses from 4 dairy species (buffalo, cow, goat, and sheep) and from 3 classes of moisture content (hard, <35% moisture; semi-hard, 35–45%; and soft, >45%). Mineral concentrations of cheese samples were determined by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry, and FA and cholesterol contents were determined by gas chromatography. Moisture and species had a significant effect on almost all traits: the highest levels of Na, Ca, and Fe were found in cheeses made from sheep milk; the greatest level of Cu was found in cow milk cheese, the lowest amount of K was found in buffalo milk cheese, and the lowest amount of Zn was found in goat cheeses. In all samples, Cr and Pb were not detected (below the level of detection). In general, total fat, protein, and minerals significantly increased when the moisture decreased. Buffalo and goat cheeses had the highest saturated FA content, and sheep cheeses showed the highest content of unsaturated and polyunsaturated FA, conjugated linoleic acid, and n-3 FA. Goat and sheep cheeses achieved higher proportions of minor FA than did cow and buffalo cheeses. Buffalo cheese exhibited the lowest cholesterol level. Our results confirm that cheese mineral content is mainly affected by the cheese-making process, whereas FA profile mainly reflects the FA composition of the source milk. This study allowed the characterization of mineral and FA composition and cholesterol content and revealed large variability among different commercial cheeses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3384-3395
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • dairy products
  • goat
  • sheep


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