Dairy products contain most of nutrients necessary for a healthy diet. Cheese contributes a lot to the diet of Greek people. Nowadays the annual per capita cheese consumption is estimated at over 22 kg. The traditional Greek cheeses predominated in this consumption.
The aim of our work was to provide more data on the levels of Ca, Na, Mg, Zn, Cu, Mn and P in some traditional cheeses widely consumed in Greece. Moreover the chemical composition in fat, proteins, dry matter, ash of these cheeses have been measured as well as the nutritional value. 11 varieties of cheeses including hard (graviera, kefalograviera, kefalotyri, ladotyri), semi-hard (kasseri), cheese in brine (feta), soft cheeses (galotyri) and whey cheeses (manouri, anthotyri, fresh and dry mizythra) have been analysed. Atomic absorption spectrometry was used for mineral and trace elements determinations.
The results obtained show that mean values of mineral concentration range from 135 to 925; 23 to 46.1; 0.6 to 4.1; mg/100g and 11.7 to 79.6; 49.6 to 102.4 mg/100g for Ca, Mg, Zn, Mn and Cu respectively. High Sodium values (3563 mg/100g) were observed in some cases due to its addition during the cheeses' manufacture. P concentration range from 110-680 mg/100g. Considerable differences among the concentration levels were observed due to different cheese milk, different technology used in cheese manufacture, the chemical composition of cheeses. Hard and semi-hard cheeses presented the highest concentrations of Ca while the lowest were observed in soft and whey cheeses.
J. Kandarakis, Th. Massouras, E. Stamati, E. Anifantakis, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece