EATING Roquefort cheese could help guard against cardiovascular disease despite its high fat and salt content, according to new research that suggests why the French enjoy good health.
Scientists discovered the French cheese, known for its mould and green veins, has specific anti-inflammatory properties.
It could providing clues to the “French paradox” and explain why people who live in the country enjoy good health despite favouring a diet high in saturated fat.
Using new technology, the researchers found the properties were at its peak when the cheese, one of the world’s oldest, ripens.
The properties of the blue cheese, which is aged in caves in the south of France, near Toulouse, were found to work best in acidic environments of the body, such as the lining of the stomach or the skin surface.
Acidification is also a common process accompanying inflammation such as in joints affected by arthritis or in an active atherosclerotic plaque on arterial wall.
French women enjoy the joint-longest life expectancy in Europe, at 85.3 years, against 82.3 years for British women.
The group of doctors at a Cambridge-based biotech company developed the technology, which helps to identify the new anti-inflammatory factors.
The team from Lycotec, led by Dr Ivan Petyaev and Dr Yuriy Bashmakov, suggested the new properties could be extracted to help the fight against cardiovascular disease or in anti-ageing creams.
They detailed their work in a study, published in the Medical Hypotheses journal, titled: “Could cheese be the missing piece in the French paradox puzzle?”
“The anti-inflammatory factors found in these cheeses could be extracted and used independently or as a part of today's pharmaceutical or beauty products,” they wrote.
“Observations indicate that consumption of red wine alone cannot explain the paradox and perhaps some other constituents of the typical French diet could be responsible for reduced cardiovascular mortality.
“We hypothesise that cheese consumption, especially of molded varieties, may contribute to the occurrence of the ‘French paradox’.”
They added: “Molded cheeses, including Roquefort, may be even more favourable to cardiovascular health.”