Health Benefits of Blue Cheese

Bold and tangy, blue cheese adds an extra kick to a variety of dishes. This notable cheese also delivers a surprising variety of health benefits that let you enjoy it as a guilt-free treat.

Blue cheese’s taste can vary significantly based on where the cheese comes from and how long it’s aged. Danish Blue, for example, has a mild flavor and creamy texture. Roquefort's taste is far stronger and may not appeal to everybody.

Historians hold differing accounts of the origins of blue cheese. Some believe blue cheese was discovered by accident when cheese stored in caves was contaminated after being exposed to moldy bread.

Regardless of blue cheese’s origins, the production process has evolved to become quite sophisticated. Today, cheesemakers use bacterial cultures to convert sugars in milk to lactic acid. More importantly, producers use mold extracts such as Penicillium roqueforti. Finally, they add rennet to cause the milk to curdle.

Health Benefits

Blue cheese is rich in nutrients and provides a variety of notable health benefits. For example, blue cheese offers high calcium content — even when compared to other types of cheese. A once-ounce serving of blue cheese contains 150 mg of calcium. While the recommended daily value for calcium varies based on age and sex, most adults should consume, at minimum, 1,000 mg per day.

Other health benefits of blue cheese include:

Lower risk of osteoporosis

Because of its high calcium content, blue cheese can help people achieve healthier bone density. Over time, regular consumption of calcium-rich foods such as blue cheese protects bone health and helps reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis..

Prevent obesity

The calcium in blue cheese may also be linked to anti-obesity mechanisms that reduce body weight from fat. Studies have found that blue cheese consumption helps with managing levels of visceral fat around the abdominal area and maintaining gut health. Excessive levels of visceral fat have been associated with higher mortality rates.

Reduced risk of heart disease

Blue cheese contains a compound known as spermidine that may delay aging and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. While the exact reason for this effect remains unclear, researchers believe that spermidine has a positive effect on cardiac muscle cells and other parts of the cardiovascular system. The presence of spermidine in blue cheese may explain what health experts refer to as the "French paradox," a phenomenon in which fewer people in France die of cardiovascular disease despite consuming, on average, more saturated fat.

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Nutrients per Serving

A one-ounce serving of blue cheese contains

Blue cheese is a great source of protein. Researchers also believe that the fat in certain dairy products, such as blue cheese, may have a neutral or even positive effect on cardiovascular health.

Blue cheese is also an excellent source of:

Cheese can be part of a healthy diet, but it’s still high in salt and saturated fat, so eat it in moderation. People who are prone to headaches or migraine may want to limit or avoid blue cheese. Aged cheeses, like blue, are a common headache trigger.

How to Prepare Blue Cheese

Although blue cheese is available throughout the year in most grocery stores and many specialty shops, its taste and quality depend on the type of milk used to make it and the time of production. Enthusiasts believe blue cheese tastes best during the summer, after it has aged for a few months.

When selecting blue cheese, be sure to smell it. While most varieties will have a strong scent, cheese should never smell like ammonia. Soft cheese will typically have a pungent odor, while firm varieties may smell nutty or smoky.

Here are a few of the best ways to add blue cheese to your favorite meals:

  • Toss blue cheese in with romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes to create a delicious salad.
  • Add blue cheese crumbles as a pizza topping.
  • Include it with chicken and lettuce in a wrap.
  • Fold it into an omelet with bacon or mushrooms. 
  • Make blue cheese tacos with sirloin steak.
  • Add it to a charcuterie board with various types of meat, nuts, or fruits.
  • Combine blue cheese and white cheddar to make the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Top salmon filets with crumbled blue cheese and chives.
  • Enjoy it with pecans and cranberries on roasted acorn squash.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 31, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

BBC Future: "The strange world inside cheese."

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Foods: "Dairy Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: Do We Really Need to Be Concerned?"

Impact Journal on Aging: "Spermidine delays aging in humans."

International Journal of Molecular Sciences: Anti-Obesity Effects of Dietary Calcium—The Evidence and Possible Mechanisms."

Mayo Clinic: “Bone Health — Tips to Keep Your Bones Healthy."

Medical Hypotheses: “Could cheese be the missing piece in the French paradox puzzle?"

U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodDate Central: "Cheese, Blue."

Cleveland Clinic: “Headaches and Food.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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