Milk and dairy products have always been an important source of nutrients in the diet of the Mediterranean population in particular that of Sardinians. “Pecorino sardo” cheese contains high concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and it can be classified as a "nutraceutical" food (a kind of food that has nutritional and pharmaceutical properties at the same time). This fatty acid has a variety of biological functions, but the most important and best known are the anti-tumoral and the anticolesterolemic one. The American National Academy of Science, in the publication "Carcinogens and anticarcinogens in the human diet", defined CLA as "the only fatty acid in nature that shows unequivocally to exhibit inhibition of the tumor’s growth in laboratory animals". Recent studies have shown that cheese with high concentrations of CLA is capable of reducing the blood concentration of LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic individuals and of proinflammatory cytokines (IL -6, IL-8 and TNF). The high concentrations of CLA are especially associated with milk and cheeses produced by sheep fed on pasture. In the “Pecorino sardo” cheese obtained from animals raised on pasture there is also an interesting content of polyunsaturated fatty acids omega 3 and traces of major long-chain fatty acids such as DHA and nervonic acid, which are absent in the milk of animals raised on farming systems without grass. The investigations carried out under the project B.Al.AKeA on “Pecorino sardo” cheese produced by industrial dairies and by local producers from different areas of Sardinia revealed no differences in the concentration of nutritional components such as vitamin E and vitamin A neither in that of CLA and omega 3, confirming the essential role of farming technique and therefore the quality of raw milk in the definition of the nutritional characteristics of the cheese produced in Sardinia.
Cheese in the centenarians’ diet: a source of nutraceuticals / M. Addis; A. Nudda; G. Pulina; Bomboi G; R. Boe; C. Zazzu; A. Marchisio; M. Carboni; S. Naitana; L. Deiana.. - (2014). ((Intervento presentato al convegno Technologies in the Context of European Food Innovation Systems. tenutosi a Bologna (italia) nel 12-15 novembre 2013..