Blue cheese is a fermented cheese renowned for its strong flavor and blue marbled coloring. Cheesemakers create blue cheese using Penicillium roqueforti mold cultures. These cultures are nontoxic and safe for human consumption.
Blue cheese is a nutrient-dense food containing various vitamins, minerals, and natural compounds that are beneficial to health. However, people should consume this cheese in moderation due to its high fat, calorie, and sodium content.
This article discusses the different types of blue cheese, its nutrient content, and potential health benefits and risks.
Cheesemakers produce blue cheese using a type of mold called Penicillium roqueforti. They mix the mold spores with milk to begin the fermentation process.
After the cheese forms into a solid shape, the cheesemaker pierces it with stainless steel needles to create pathways for air to flow. These pathways are where the distinctive blue, blue-gray, or blue-green colored veins of mold will later develop.
Although blue cheese contains mold, the mold is nontoxic and safe for human consumption.
There are several types of blue cheese. The
- French Roquefort
- English Stilton
- Spanish Cabrales
- Danish Danablue
- Italian Gorgonzola
All types of blue cheese are the product of mixing Penicillium roqueforti mold spores with milk. The different varieties are due to variations in the following factors:
- salt content
- time aged
Some possible health benefits of blue cheese are as follows.
Blue cheese is high in calcium, containing
- Children aged 2–3 years: 700 mg per day
- Children aged 4–8 years: 1,000 mg per day
- Children aged 9–18 years: 1,300 mg per day
- Adults aged 19–50 years, and males aged 51 years and over: 1,000 mg per day
- Females aged 51 years and over: 1,200 mg per day
Calcium is also vital to forming tooth enamel, which is the hard outer surface of the teeth. Enamel helps to protect the more vulnerable parts of the teeth and insulates them from very hot or cold temperatures.
Compared with other cheeses, blue cheese is particularly high in calcium.
Blue cheese is rich in vitamins and minerals that help maintain proper immune system functioning. For example, 1 oz of blue cheese contains the
Blue cheese contains a substance called spermidine. A
The authors concluded that spermidine may decrease age-related arterial stiffness and reverse changes in the heart, though further studies are necessary to support these findings.
Atherosclerosis is the medical term for the thickening and hardening of the arteries. The condition occurs due to an accumulation of fatty waste deposits called plaques within the blood vessels. Inflammation associated with atherosclerosis
In an older
The researchers speculated that consuming blue cheese may help reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis. They added that the findings may help explain why French people have low rates of cardiovascular death despite consuming higher quantities of cheese.
Cognition and memory
Some people may be concerned about the potential risks of consuming blue cheese, as follows:
Overconsumption of blue cheese can add excess calories and saturated fat to the diet.
1 oz of blue cheese contains 8.14 g of fat, of which 5.3 g is saturated fat. This type of fat can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Anyone following a low calorie or low fat diet should limit their consumption of blue cheese or consider reduced-fat varieties.
Blue cheese is high in sodium, with
Excess sodium in the diet can cause multiple health problems, including:
According to the
Dairy products contain a natural sugar called lactose. Some people are lactose intolerant, meaning they are unable to digest lactose properly. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as stomach cramps, flatulence, and diarrhea.
However, some people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose. This means that some cheeses low in lactose, such as brie, may be suitable options.
People with allergies to penicillin or mold may have concerns about the safety of consuming blue cheese.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the Penicillium cultures that create blue cheese do not produce penicillin. Therefore, it is generally safe for people with penicillin allergies to eat blue cheese, as long as the cheese has not spoiled.
Individuals with mold allergies may also safely eat blue cheese, as the digestive process destroys any active mold spores. Moreover, mold allergies typically flare as a result of mold inhalation as opposed to mold ingestion.
Blue cheese can spoil if a person leaves the cheese unrefrigerated for too long or if they refrigerate it but do not eat it within several weeks. In either case, the mold present in the cheese can produce toxic compounds called mycotoxins. These can cause short- and long-term health effects.
Mycotoxin illness can mimic food poisoning, with
Long-term exposure to mycotoxins can lead to chronic illnesses, such as:
A person can store unopened blue cheese in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Once opened, a person should rewrap the cheese tightly and store it for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cheese will store it indefinitely.
Blue cheese is a flavorsome fermented cheese featuring characteristic blue veins or marbling. The process of creating blue cheese involves mixing Penicillium roqueforti mold cultures with milk to begin the fermentation process.
Blue cheese is rich in calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth and bones. The cheese also contains other nutrients that may help promote immune, cardiovascular, and cognitive functioning. However, people should consume blue cheese in moderation due to its high levels of saturated fat, calories, and sodium.
Spoiled blue cheese can produce substances called mycotoxins that are harmful to health. As such, it is important that people store the cheese safely and avoid consuming cheese that has spoiled.