Title : Quality attributes of regionally-produced goat cheese: a comprehensive analysis on nutritional indices
In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in consumer interest in goat milk cheese due to its recognized health benefits. This investigation aims to contribute to the scientific understanding of the intricate variations in nutritional composition among different types of goat's milk cheese available in Greece, which is one of the prominent global producers of this type of cheese. The primary objective of this study is to conduct a comprehensive comparison of 45 representative samples of cheeses obtained from various categories of goat's milk cheese producers in Greece. These categories encompass 8 local artisanal producers (LAP), 10 larger national producers (LNP), 10 domestic producers (DP), and 17 laboratory-scale cheeses derived from milk sourced from mountain grazing goats (MGC) in the western Macedonia region. To achieve this objective, a range of analyses were performed to evaluate chemical and organoleptic characteristics including fat, protein, moisture, salinity, and fatty acid profile. The nutritional analysis results revealed the superiority of DP cheeses over LNP cheeses in terms of fat and protein content, with DP cheeses exhibiting higher levels (4% and 1.7% respectively). Furthermore, the antioxidant capacity of different goat cheese samples (LAP, LNP, DP, MGC) was assessed using multiple methods (FRAP, DPPH, FC, ABTS). The findings indicated a potentially higher total antioxidant capacity in goat milk cheese produced in Western Macedonia (LAP, DP, MGC) compared to LNP cheeses. Additionally, a comparative analysis of the fatty acid content in cheese samples allowed for the calculation of nutritional indicators related to healthy fat consumption, such as the atherogenic index (AI) and desirable fatty acid (DFA) value. These results contribute to the understanding of the nutritional profile of goat's milk cheese produced by different categories of producers in Greece, providing valuable insights for both researchers and consumers. Furthermore they give an insight on abundant antioxidant profile of goat cheese produced in a mountainous area in contrast with the same type of cheese produced by the industry most probably from stabled animals.