Roquefort cheese is one of the most famous varieties of blue cheese, that is aged or ripened in the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. This delightfully creamy cheese with veins of green mold have several health benefits, which are discussed in this article.
Did You Know?
Before the discovery of penicillin, Roquefort cheese was applied on open wounds by shepherds to prevent infections and gangrene.Roquefort cheese is a type of blue cheese, which is slightly moist and crumbly with distinctive veins of emerald green mold. This cheese is considered to be a culinary delight for its rich creamy texture and sharp, tangy flavor. In France, it is called ‘the cheese of kings and popes’. Only cheese ripened in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon can bear the name Roquefort cheese, though similar types of blue cheese are produced in other places too.
Roquefort cheese gets its distinctive taste and flavor from the presence of the fungus Penicillium roqueforti, which can be found in the soil of these caves. Traditionally, cheesemakers used to leave bread in the caves of Roquefort for about 6 to 8 weeks to promote the growth of Penicillium roqueforti. The interior of the bread was then dried and crushed to produce a powder that was used in making this special blue cheese. But now this mold can be grown in the laboratory as well. Today, Roquefort cheese is a recognized geographical indication and the AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) has laid down several requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to consider a blue cheese as Roquefort.
Roquefort Cheese Health Benefits
Blue cheese varieties like Roquefort is healthy, and much of its health benefits can be attributed to its rich nutritional profile and the presence of the Penicillium roqueforti fungus. Roquefort cheese is produced from sheep milk; typically the milk of the Lacaune breed is used. The following are some of the most noteworthy blue cheese health benefits.
Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
‘French paradox’ is a term used for the observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular diseases, despite indulging in a diet rich in saturated fats. Earlier, only red wine was believed to be associated with this paradox. But today, many scientists are of the opinion that Roquefort and other types of fermented cheese may help explain the famous ‘French paradox’. This is because blue cheese varieties like Roquefort possess anti-inflammatory properties that can provide protection against cardiovascular diseases.
Regular consumption of blue cheese is believed to be the reason why the French enjoy better health as compared to other Europeans. Further, it has been observed that the anti-inflammatory properties of Roquefort cheese is enhanced in an acidic environment, such as in the surface of the skin and the lining of the stomach. Recently, some peptides isolated from the cheese were found to inhibit the ‘angiotensin-converting enzyme’ (ACE) just like ACE inhibitors used in the treatment of hypertension. Penicillium roqueforti can also fight harmful bacteria and promote gut health.
Provides Relief from Arthritis
As mentioned already, Roquefort cheese has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help ease the inflammation of joints. So, this cheese can provide relief from inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout.
Helps in Weight Management
If consumed as a part of a well-rounded nutrition plan, blue cheese like Roquefort can help in losing weight. Cheese contains high amounts of proteins, which can help you feel satiated quickly and reduce your total calorie intake. Roquefort cheese can help you feel full for longer, and thus reduce the tendency to snack on unhealthy and high-calorie foods.
Slows Down the Aging Process
Blue cheese like Roquefort can help prevent the formation of cellulite, which gives the skin a cottage cheese-like appearance or texture. Cellulite is caused by the deposition of fat below the skin, and women are more susceptible to this condition. Roquefort cheese and other fermented or ripened cheese may help slow down the signs of aging, like wrinkles and cellulite formation.
Promotes Bone Health
Dairy products are a very good source of calcium that is required for strong bones and teeth. In postmenopausal women, a deficiency of calcium can cause osteoporosis, which is characterized by a reduction in bone mineral density and fragile bones. Calcium rich foods like Roquefort cheese can help prevent this disease.
Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Blue cheese can provide a number of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin D, potassium, sodium, and zinc. All these vitamins and minerals are crucial for the smooth operation of various biochemical processes of the body.
Promotes Health and Longevity
The beneficial effects of Roquefort are mainly attributed to the process of cheese ripening. As cheese ripens, the mold present in it produces some compounds that can promote health and increase longevity. It has been observed that the French consume fermented or ripened cheese regularly and they are much healthier than other Europeans. In fact, French women have the longest life expectancy in Europe.
Sheep milk has less saturated fats and cholesterol, but more vitamin A, vitamin B, calcium, and phosphorus as compared to cow’s milk. This is the reason why Roquefort cheese is considered much healthier than cheese made from cow’s milk. Roquefort cheese is not only healthy, but is highly valued for its unique taste and flavor as well. Though this cheese is available all year round, the best time to enjoy it is from April to October.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/health-benefits-of-roquefort-cheese.html