Inflammation, be gone! A health expert reveals how a small piece of Roquefort per day could very well keep the doctor away.
On average, the French eat a staggering 25 kilos of cheese per year!
You'd think that all that saturated fat wouldn't be good for a balanced diet, but studies are actually showing that mouldy cheese could be linked to better stomach health.
On a recent episode of Superfoods, journalist Kate Quilton investigated this theory, visiting Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, the birthplace of this mouldy cheese - said to produce around 3 million wheels of the stuff every year.
How is the mould made?
The mould in question (Penicillium roqueforti) is grown on bread inside bottles, then added to the curd as the cheese is made. Then, the wheels are left to mature in caves before being packaged and sold to customers.
Where's the evidence?
Dr Ivan Petyaev believes mouldy cheese is the key to good gut health, and he's even done his own experiments.
"It is very good for you," he says. "We started to extract different parts of this cheese and we found this group of molecules which can control inflammation in our laboratories."
As part of his studies, Ivan grew the harmful bacteria often found in the stomach that can cause inflammation in one petri dish and saw the bacteria spread rapidly.
He then repeated the growth in a second dish, along with the molecules extracted from the blue cheese mould and found the harmful bacteria didn't spread at all.
Ivan undertook clinical trials to further support his research, where participants were asked to eat 25 grams of Roquefort per day. One man, who struggled with an inflamed stomach lining for 20 years, ate the blue cheese for two months and found his stomach recovered completely!
Wine and cheese, please
Ivan goes even further with his theories, suggesting that a nice wine paired with your cheese is only going to further boost the benefits. "We isolated two groups of molecules responsible for these properties. One is water soluble and the other is extracted only really by applying alcohol," he says.
So... blue cheese and red wine in the name of good gut health? Sign us up!
Stream or watch series 2 of Superfoods, Mondays at 9.05pm on Lifestyle FOOD.