10 Health Benefits Of Paneer That Make It Every Foodie’s Delight
Image Credit: Paneer is a versatile and super-healthy ingredient. Image courtesy: Pexels

Think Paneer and a range of vegetarian dishes immediately pop up in our minds. For Indians, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, Paneer is an ingredient that we eat at home, at restaurants and dhabas, on the streets, as well as on special occasions, ranging from festive days to wedding banquets. But did you know that in all likelihood, Paneer did not originate in India? Nevertheless, it is an integral part of our lives and apart from being very versatile, it has just too many health benefits to impart as well. Here’s everything you should know about Paneer and its health benefits. 

Understanding Paneer: Its Origins & Preparation Process

As mentioned before, Paneer is likely to have originated in the Middle East rather than India. Food historian Colleen Taylor Sen writes that though Vedic texts contain “a single reference to something called dadhanvat, which some translate as cheese and others as ‘abundance of curds’.” But Paneer is believed to be of Persian origins, brought to India by Persian and Afghan invaders—a fact endorsed by the National Dairy Research Institute. However, historian BN Mathur, deriving from texts like the Charaka Samhita, says that Paneer is a milk product that can be traced back to 75-300 AD in the Kushan and Satavahana regions of Afghanistan and the Deccan. 

But no matter what its origins, Paneer has become an essential part of India’s culinary tapestry. In case you didn’t know—and that’s very unlikely if you’re Indian—paneer is a fresh type of cheese made from cow’s milk or buffalo’s milk. Paneer is a heat-acid coagulated milk product, which means that it is created by adding heat and acids like lemon juice or vinegar to milk. While Paneer is often referred to as Indian cottage cheese, unlike most other cheeses, it is not aged. Mild in taste, firm yet spongy in texture, Paneer is used in everything from starters and snacks to curries, sabjis and desserts in India—primarily because it melds so well with a variety of flavours and does not melt when cooked. 

Health Benefits Of Paneer

This versatility may be one of the main reasons why Paneer has made it to all Indian kitchens in some form or the other, but another reason that is always on the top of our minds is that Paneer is a very healthy ingredient to have. Sure, it is not for vegans because it is an animal-based product. It is also best avoided by those who have lactose intolerance. But apart from these two groups of our population, everyone can eat Paneer to gain its health benefits. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of Paneer have the following nutrients: 

Calories: 321Kcal 

Total Fat: 25gm 

Total Carbohydrate: 3.57gm 

Total Protein: 21.43gm 

Calcium: 714mg 

Magnesium: 8mg 

Sodium: 18mg 

Vitamin A: 714 IU 

Fatty acids(total saturated): 16.07gm 

Cholesterol: 89 mg 

Based on this data and others, here are all the health benefits of Paneer you should know about. 

1. Great source of protein: Paneer is one of the most high-protein foods among vegetarian sources in the world. Whether you are a health-conscious foodie or not, eating Paneer can help you build muscles and provide you with the strength and stamina you need. This is especially true for children, pregnant women, the elderly and vegetarians, who need more easily available as well as easy to eat sources of protein.  

2. Improves bone health: Paneer is packed with calcium, phosphorous and iron—all the minerals you need to grow and maintain strong bones. Experts believe that eating a portion of Paneer every day can ensure you get at least 8 per cent of the daily recommended value of calcium. This apart, calcium is also needed to keep teeth, hair and heart muscles strong, so eating Paneer is a must. 

3. Keeps vision healthy: Paneer is very high in Vitamin A, which is a nutrient we need to maintain a healthy eyesight. Consuming Paneer regularly and throughout your life can not only help you keep your vision perfect, but can also prevent age-related macular degeneration, the occurrence of cataracts and vision loss. 

4. Regulates blood sugar levels: Apart from being a source of healthy carbs and fats, Paneer is also packed with magnesium. Paneer, therefore, is good at regulating blood sugar levels, especially when it comes to sudden fluctuations that impair the health of diabetics. Even if you’re not diabetic, eating Paneer can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout your lifetime. 

5. Good for heart health: Paneer is chock full of potassium, which not only aids kidney function but also regulates the amount of sodium levels in the body, thereby aiding the heart’s function. Paneer is also packed with other nutrients and antioxidants that improve the function of the heart. So, eating Paneer can actually keep your heart healthy. 

6. Boosts the immune system: Apart from being a rich source of essential nutrients like protein, potassium, magnesium and calcium, Paneer is also packed with antioxidants and less-known compounds like selenium that improve the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off seasonal and other infections. This is the reason why eating Paneer is a great immunity boost. 

7. Aids weight loss: Paneer has always been a part of healthy weight loss diets because not only is it high in protein and essential nutrients, but also low in calories compared to other sources that can provide the same nutrient profile. Further, eating Paneer can help you feel full for longer, thereby preventing overeating and cravings that can lead to weight gain. 

8. Improves digestion: Paneer offers one of the most easily digestible forms of protein. That apart, Paneer also contains phosphorous and potassium, which aid intestinal health and bowel movements. So, the overall effect of eating Paneer is a healthy digestive system—which is truly something every foodie can do with. 

9. Helps cognitive health: Paneer is packed with folate, a type of Vitamin B complex that not only helps the development of a baby growing in a mother’s womb, but also brain health in adults. Paneer also has healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which aid cognition and brain health in kids and adults alike. So, keeping Paneer a part of your diet, all your life can keep your brain healthy. 

10. Great for your skin health: Paneer is packed with protein, vitamin E, selenium and a number of antioxidants that can help keep your skin and hair healthy and luscious. In fact, Paneer is recommended as an essential part of the diet that helps battle skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis, and hair fall issues like alopecia. So, eating Paneer can not only prevent these problems but also help if you have them.