Blue cheese health benefits come from the minerals and vitamins in it — and in most cheeses, you should also take the salt and fat content into account. Cheeses such as Roquefort and blue Stilton may contain critical vitamins, but that’s not the complete picture.
What Is Blue Cheese?
Blue cheese is an aged cheese prepared from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk. Known for its distinctive spots, the cheese has a sharp, salty, and pungent note. This type of cheese is high in sodium but low in fat, which means anyone watching their blood pressure should be cautious.
Mold in foods may be considered harmful to consume, but not all molds are similar. In cheese, the molds do not secrete the 2 toxins that generally occur – aflatoxins and mycotoxins . This makes them safe to consume, and the spotted appearance in blue cheese is just a sign of the fermentation process .
When you partake in pasteurized blue cheese in your diet, you end up enhancing your gut health. Research studies are coming out that demonstrate that blue cheese may slow down signs of aging and improve cardiovascular health.
[Also Read: Seven Healthiest Cheese For You]
Blue Cheese: The Facts
Different varieties make up the blue cheese group. It is a common term used to describe cheeses created from cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk with distinctive blue, gray, or green veins of mold running through them .
These veins are what create the unique taste and smell that make blue cheese so desirable or so repugnant — depending on your particular preference.
These veins are created by the process of adding bacteria cultures of the Penicillin variety to the cheese, either through injection before the curds have formed or by mixing them in following the curd development .
Most commonly, the bacteria culture in blue cheeses is Penicillium roqueforti. It has been described as “little enzyme factories that create the distinctive flavor, appearance and aroma of blue cheeses” by the Cheese Science Toolkit.
This form of mold is vastly different from the mold that may grow on a bit of forgotten bread because it does not produce mycotoxins. These are naturally occurring chemicals found in certain molds.
They can cause gastrointestinal problems, weaken the immune system, damage the kidneys, and potentially even cause cancer due to their carcinogenic properties.
Fortunately, the mold veins in blue cheese produce no mycotoxins, thanks to careful processing as the cheese is made, so blue cheese is entirely safe for consumption.
[Also Read: 5 Miraculous Feta Cheese Health Benefits]
Blue Cheese Health Benefits
There’s a lot of debate regarding the health benefits of blue cheese and dairy products and cheese in general, but certain studies have demonstrated evidence suggesting it may provide the body with benefits that are not yet fully understood.
For instance, the “French paradox” questions how France, a country where people consume cheese and wine in large quantities, also has some of the lowest global rates of cardiovascular illness. It leads some researchers to believe that cheese helps reduce the probability of contracting heart disease instead of causing it.
A study published in December 2012 issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses found that blue cheeses in specific — because of the bacteria cultures it contains and distinct veins of mold that run through it — are beneficial in minimizing cardiovascular disease chance thanks to the secondary metabolites found in Penicillium roqueforti.
Roquefort is regarded as the most helpful cheese for cardiovascular health.
Moreover, a November 2014 study published in the_ Journal of Applied Microbiology demonstrated the sheer chemical diversity present in _Penicillium roqueforti and its role in helping the production of high-value molecules benefit the human body.
Blue cheese is veined with Penicillium roqueforti, so consuming it may aid in the process of molecule production.
[Also Read: Magical Cottage Cheese Benefits]
Types of Blue Cheese
The finest known blue cheese, hands down, is blue Stilton. It is a hard blue cheese rather than soft cheese, so it is used more regularly in salads and other such dishes where it can be crumbled to add a distinct extra flavoring.
The main types include:
1. Danish Blue
Initially created by a Danish cheese maker (as the name would indicate) in the 1900s, it has since gained popularity worldwide. Though it is lower in fat than Stilton, it makes up for it in salt content — So it should be taken in moderation.
Named after the small English town where it originated is an English cheese. Blue Stilton also should be consumed moderately due to its high salt and fat content. Add it in a crumbled form over a salad or some fruit as a dessert or an appetizer.
Originating from Roquefort in France, is particularly strong in flavor (even by blue cheese standards) thanks to its too high salt content. Some forms of Roquefort have a higher salt content than salt water — So, as with most blue cheeses, it should be taken in moderation and sparingly.
[Also Read: Goat Cheese Benefits]
Blue Cheese Nutrition Facts
According to Nutritional Value, a 100-gram serving of blue cheese contains various beneficial minerals and vitamins.
Notably, a 100-gram serving offers 20 percent of the prescribed intake of vitamin B12, 53 percent of the recommended intake of calcium, 42 percent of the recommended intake of protein, 8 percent of the daily prescribed intake of vitamin B6.
Based on this data alone, blue cheese nutrition appears to be useful. Unfortunately, this is not all that blue cheese offers.
Apart from the minerals and vitamins, a serving of 100 grams also provides an enormous 95 percent of saturated fat, 45 percent of the daily recommendation of fat, 50 percent of daily sodium, and 25 percent of daily cholesterol.
To look at the vitamin content alone would be to show blue cheese as positively healthy. Still, when its salt, fat, and cholesterol are considered, a completely different picture is portrayed.
More specific blue cheese nutrition:
Danish blue: 28.9 grams of fat, 20.5 grams of protein, 1,220 milligrams of sodium, 19.1 grams of saturated fat, and 488 milligrams of calcium
Roquefort: 32.9 grams of fat, 19.7 grams of protein, 20.7 grams saturated fat, 530 milligrams of calcium, and 1,670 milligrams of sodium.
Blue cheese is prepared using a type of mold called Penicillium, responsible for its distinct smell, taste, and appearance. Unlike other types of mold, Penicillium types used to produce blue cheese do not produce mycotoxins and are considered safe for consumption.
However, blue cheese can still go wrong, so it’s essential to store blue cheese and practice basic food safety practices properly.