While red wine has long been credited for playing a key role in the “French paradox,” new research claims it’s not the vino, but the blue-ripened veins of old, moldy cheeses like Roquefort that allow the French to enjoy a rich fatty diet and still boast one of the longest life spans in Europe.
In a study published in Medical Hypothesis, scientists from a Cambridge-based biotech company in the UK found that moldy, blue-veined cheeses like Roquefort have anti-inflammatory properties — a finding that could explain why the French have among the lowest mortality rates from cardiovascular-related diseases.
According to 2009 statistics from the OECD, France had the third lowest rate of mortality from heart disease or stroke out of 35 countries.
While research is ongoing on the link between heart disease and inflammation — the body’s natural response to injury — chronic inflammation has been shown to damage the lining of artery walls and contribute to the formation of harmful plaques.
In their study, meanwhile, scientists from Lycotec found that the anti-inflammatory properties in moldy cheeses worked best in acidic environments, most notably in the stomach lining and skin surface.
The scientists also hope to extract the anti-inflammatory properties of moldy, fermented cheeses to use in pharmaceutical or beauty products.