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Blue Cheese: Health Benefits and Risks

Blue cheese is a semi-soft cheese variant with a salty and sharp taste. It is mainly cultured from the edible penicillium genus mould. The marble texture on the cheese is caused by the spore moulds leaving a unique green-blue network design. Strains of penicillium like Penicillium expansum can be dangerous to consume, but Penicillium glaucum and Penicillium roqueforti used in preparing blue cheese is safe to eat.

Blue cheese is a bit salty, sweet, and sharp with a pungent odour. The texture of blue cheese is creamy, semi-soft, and crumbly. It is rich in calcium, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is healthy for the heart and immune system. You can pair blue cheese with nuts and fruits. Furthermore, you can use it as a sauce and salad dressing. The process of dipping vegetables in blue cheese is very popular in various regions of the world.

Types of Blue Cheese

Blue cheese is mainly classified into six types: Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Blue Stilton, Cabrales, Danablu, and Cambozola. Blue cheese uses cow milk for preparation, but Roquefort cheese uses ewe’s milk. Each blue cheese variant has its characteristics, taste, texture, and speciality.

Roquefort

Roquefort is one of the most popular types of blue cheese. It requires ewe’s milk for preparation and has a strong flavour and texture. Since french citizens first prepared the cheese in a french village Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon, it got its name Roquefort. 

Gorgonzola

Italians from the town of Gorgonzola prepared it first, giving it the name Gorgonzola. Italians made the cheese using cow’s milk.

Blue Stilton

This cheese is named after England as it originated from there. People use cow’s milk to prepare it. England also produces white stilton cheese, but it isn’t aged using a mould like this one.

Cabrales

Originated in Asturias, Spain, this form of blue cheese is prepared using cow’s milk.

Danablu

The Danish-origin blue cheese is also prepared using cow’s milk. The flavour of the cheese is milder than other sharp flavoured blue cheese.

Cambozola

This variety of blue cheese is different from other variants. It is known as double creamy blue cheese. Its preparation includes cream and cow’s milk. It is similar to the Brie cheese due to its edible rind and bloomy nature.

Preparation of Blue cheese

People worldwide prepare blue cheese. However, the final product depends on the animal’s diet, milk quality and the preparation technique. The standard preparation technique involves the following steps. 

Raw milk pasteurisation: The first step is to make blue cheddar by adding a starter culture to purified raw milk to transform lactose into lactic acid, solidifying the fluid milk.Milk coagulation: Rennet, an enzyme in the stomach of mammals, is added to assist with the coagulating process.Cut the curds: Cutting the coagulated curd releases the whey, a liquid cheese byproduct.Drain the whey: The next step is assembling the curd after draining the whey. Addition of the mould: The next step is sprinkling the penicillium on top of the curd.Oxygen circulation: The next step is pricking the cheese all over to help circulate oxygen. It enables the formation of green and blue veins on the cheese through mould growth. Then, salt is added to prevent the cheese from spoiling.

Nutritional Properties of Blue Cheese

As per USDA, one hundred grams of blue cheese offers the following nutrients. 

Water: 42.4 gEnergy: 353 kcalProtein: 21.4 gTotal fat: 28.7 gCarbohydrate: 2.34 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Blue cheese also contains fair amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Calcium: 528 mgPhosphorus: 387 mgSodium: 1150 mgPotassium: 256 mgMagnesium: 23 mgFolate: 36 μgVitamin A: 721 IUSelenium: 14.5 µg

The HealthifyMe Note

Like other cheese varieties, blue cheese also has a rich nutritional profile. Being a dairy product, it has a rich protein content, beneficial for muscle development. In addition, it is rich in calcium, making it healthy for the bones and teeth. However, since it has a high sodium content, you should ensure that you eat it in moderation. Also, ensure that you avoid adding any salt to the dishes you prepare using Blue cheese.

Health Benefits of Blue cheese

Blue cheese is nutrient-dense and consists of various health benefits. Compared to other types of cheese, blue cheese contains a very high amount of calcium. Here are the most significant health benefits of blue cheese.

Teeth and Bone Health

The high calcium content in blue cheese is one of the most significant benefits. It is no secret that calcium strengthens the bones and teeth. Furthermore, the high calcium content in blue cheese helps improve bone density and prevents osteoporosis. 

Several studies have proven a connection between adequate calcium intake and increased bone mass. Although the required daily calcium intake differs by age and gender, an adult should consume about 30 grams of blue cheese, which provides approximately 150 mg of calcium. Furthermore, calcium in blue cheese helps strengthen the teeth and maintain their health.

May Prevent Obesity

Although there is no direct relationship between blue cheese and weight management, the high calcium content of blue cheese may prevent obesity. 

As per some studies, consumption of high calcium foods like milk and dairy products can lower visceral fat storage near the abdomen and improve intestinal health. 

Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease

According to studies, consuming blue cheese, especially Roquefort cheese, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The proteins in Ricquofort cheese help lower cholesterol levels and prevent artery inflammation and blood clotting in veins or arteries. As a result, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, blue is rich in proteins, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphate, peptides, and vitamins, making it heart-healthy. 

Immunity Booster

Blue cheese intake has been found in studies to improve the immune system. The presence of essential vitamins like vitamin A and D and minerals like potassium, sodium and zinc makes it an immunity booster. So, blue cheese can help us stay healthy by giving us a robust immune system.

Blue Cheese Decreases Inflammation

Inflammation is a common ailment that affects most people today, and if ignored, it can lead to significant and even deadly complications. 

Studies prove the anti-inflammatory properties of blue cheese. These anti-inflammatory properties of blue cheese make it beneficial for curing various inflammatory disorders in our bodies like joint pain, sinusitis and asthma. In addition, consuming blue cheese daily in the right amount helps minimise arthritis pain.

The HealthifyMe Note

Most health benefits of Blue cheese are due to its reasonably rich nutritional profile. Amongst all the health benefits, the most significant advantage of Blue cheese is improving bone strength and overall bone development. However, you should ensure that you eat it in moderation to reap its benefits. Furthermore, it can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and enhance your immunity.

Healthy Recipes

You can use blue cheese in various ways to enhance the flavour of the food. For example, you can use it by melting it on a pizza or burger or as a dip. In addition, you can also use it to make desserts, grilled sandwiches, or topping on your salads.

Here are some of the easy blue cheese recipes that you can try.

Ham & Blue Cheese-tart

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Large sheets of filo pastry: 6Olive oil: 1 tbspChopped ham: 100 gmSliced spring onions: 1 bunch (100 g)Beaten eggs: 2Soft cheese: 300gRocket leaves: 2 large handfuls (60 g)Blue cheese: 50gPine nuts: 2 tbsp

Preparation method

Heat the oven to 160 degrees. Brush the filo sheets with little oil and place them in a loose tin around 20cm.At different angles, wrap the top of the sheet.Mix all the onions, ham, soft cheese, pine nuts, and rocket leaves, and transfer them to the filo sheet.Bake for 30 min after sprinkling blue cheese and pine nuts on the top.After cooling, serve with a salad.

Nutritional value

Energy: 626 kcalFat: 52gCarbs: 24gProtein: 24gSugar: 3gSaturates: 28g

Broccoli, walnut, and blue cheese pasta

Serves 2

Preparation time – 3 minutes

Cooking time – 12 minutes

Ingredients

Penne pasta: 200gBroccoli florets: 250gLemon: 1Blue cheese: 100gOlive oil: 2 tbspChopped walnuts: a handful (30 g)

Preparation method

Cook penne for 4 mins till its al dente. Toss in the broccoli once you are about to stop cooking. In the meantime, heat olive oil, add a small bunch of chopped pecans and broil tenderly for 1 min.Drain the pasta, adding 4 tbsp cooking water to the pecans. Return the pasta to the container, and add the pecans and rich blue cheese. Delicately mix on the heat, just to dissolve the cheese. Squeeze the lemon juice to serve.

Nutritional value

Energy: 758 kcalCarbs: 80gFat: 38gFibre: 7gProtein: 28gSugar: 6gSalt: 0.82gSaturates: 12g

Precautions and Things to Keep in Mind

Blue cheese contains a reasonable amount of fats and is high in calories. Hence, it is best to consume it in moderation. Overconsumption of blue cheese can lead to weight gain. If you want to cut down on calories or follow a low-calorie diet, you should switch to low-fat cheese.

Blue cheese May Increase Cholesterol Levels

Overconsumption of blue cheese can increase cholesterol levels as it contains saturated fat. Healthy adults on a 2,000-calorie diet should not consume more than 25% of their daily calories from fat, with less than 7% of those calories coming from saturated fat. Hence, you should limit your blue cheese consumption and keep it moderate. 

Potential Threat to Your Blood Pressure

Since blue cheese contains a high amount of sodium, it can increase your blood pressure levels. A high-sodium diet makes controlling blood pressure difficult, and healthy individuals should consume no more than 2,300 milligrammes of sodium per day.

Blue cheese Causes Allergy

Blue cheese contains two exceptionally allergenic substances: milk and mould. Many people can be allergic to milk (lactose intolerants) and moulds. Most side effects of an allergic reaction are the consequence of irritation in soft tissue in various body parts.

The most effective way to treat blue cheese allergy side effects is to counsel the doctor, get on medication, and keep away from the intake of any dairy item for no less than 8-10 days.

Precautions

Limit the intake of blue cheese and consume it in moderation.Before purchasing the stuffed or packaged blue cheese, look at the expiry and manufacture date.Watch out for your calorie intake to not gain an unhealthy weight.  

Safety and Storage

If you notice any indications of rotting or spots on the blue cheese, throw it right away. Specifically, fluffy white, green, pink, or dark spots growing on the outer layer of blue cheese might indicate that it has turned sour.

Keeping spoiled blue cheese can cause food contamination, which causes symptoms like queasiness, heaving, looseness of the bowels, and stomach cramps. In addition, some cheese types produce mycotoxins, poisonous gases that can alter resistant capacity, cause stomach-related pain, and even food poisoning.

Putting away blue cheese appropriately and cleaning is ideal to avoid these side effects and securely store blue cheese. It’s critical to store blue cheese firmly closed in the refrigerator. Blue cheese can last up to 3 months in the fridge.

Summary 

Blue cheese’s particular taste, smell, and appearance are because of the edible mould Penicillium used to prepare it.  However, the taste and quality of blue cheese may vary based on the type of milk, storage properties, and the preparation technique. Furthermore, if not stored correctly, blue cheese can easily turn sour. So it’s important to rehearse the fundamentals of food handling practices and store blue cheese appropriately. 

Besides offering several health benefits like preventing osteoporosis, arthritis and heart diseases, blue cheese can also lead to side effects. Hence, it is essential to consume it in moderation. Furthermore, people who are allergic to dairy and moulds should avoid consuming blue cheese. It is also vital to know that the high sodium content of blue cheese can harm your health. Hence, choose your cheese wisely and ensure you do not over consume.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Q. Is blue cheese good for you?

A. Blue cheese, like many dairy products, is rich in fat, salt, and cholesterol, but it also contains beneficial vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B12 and calcium). However, excess consumption can cause harm as well. So, if you enjoy cheese, eat it in moderation.

Q. What are the benefits of blue cheese?

A. The benefits of blue cheese include preventing osteoporosis, maintaining bone health and dental care, reducing heart disease, reducing cardiovascular disease, reducing obesity, and preventing arthritis. It also strengthens the immune system. Vitamin A, vitamin D, potassium, salt, and zinc are vital vitamins and minerals in blue cheese. In addition, blue cheese can help improve bone density due to its high calcium content.

Q. Is blue cheese harmful?

A. Overconsumption of blue cheese can be harmful because it has high sodium, calories and fats. Extra calories can lead to weight gain, excess sodium can lead to blood pressure issues, and excess fats can cause harm to your heart. Hence, excess blue cheese can be harmful. Furthermore, not storing blue cheese properly can make it unhealthy. It can cause weight gain, increase the risk of heart disease, and cause allergies with severe side effects.

Q. Is blue cheese probiotic?

A. Although blue cheese is rich in many good microorganisms, it is not a probiotic. However, blue cheese has a variety of probiotic bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. But there is not enough evidence to prove blue cheese a probiotic.

Q. Is blue cheese an antibiotic?

A. Although blue cheese is prepared using penicillium and contains various essential minerals and nutrients, it does not exhibit antibiotic properties.

Q. Is blue cheese anti-inflammatory?

A. Yes, several studies show that blue cheese has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a significant condition that affects many people today, and if left untreated, it may become severe and even fatal. The anti-inflammatory properties of blue cheese aid in treating many inflammatory conditions in our bodies.

Q. Is blue cheese good for your heart?

A. Blue cheese contains many nutrients that are healthy for the heart. Some studies also show that blue cheese includes spermidine, a chemical that may slow the ageing process and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the protein in blue cheese, especially Ricquofort, helps lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease. However, when consumed in excess, blue cheese negatively affects the heart.

Q. Is blue cheese good for cholesterol?

A. Blue cheese can increase cholesterol levels as it contains saturated fat. Furthermore, blue cheese also has dietary cholesterol. Hence, it is best to consume it in moderation.

Q. Is blue cheese good for high blood pressure?

A. High sodium intake makes controlling blood pressure more difficult, and healthy individuals should consume no more than 2,300 mg of salt daily. However, since blue cheese is high in sodium, it is not good for high blood pressure.

Q. Is blue cheese good for digestion?

A. Blue cheese’s catalysts separate the milk proteins and fat, making it easier to digest than other types of cheese. Furthermore, these proteins aid in digesting many food sources commonly consumed to improve digestion.

Q. Does blue cheese cause weight gain?

A. Excess consumption of blue cheese can cause weight gain because it has a high-calorie density, containing many calories per serving. 

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