Eat more blue cheese for a healthy heart?

You have read before about the so-called “French paradox” in the Insiders’  Cures  and the Daily Dispatch. It’s a mystery that has puzzled researchers for decades. Basically, French men and women eat lots of foods (like cheese) high in saturated fat, drink more, and smoke more than Americans. But they don’t die of cardiovascular disease. In fact, they rank third lowest in the world for cardiovascular mortality. So, of course, researchers set out to find the single ingredient (like a drug), or the “magic bullet,” that kept heart disease at bay.

For years, researchers believed they knew why the French kept their hearts healthy, despite a fatty diet. “It’s something in the red wine,” they said! The red wine the French drink counteracts the high-fat diet. That’s why you started hearing so much about single ingredients like resveratrol–a principle antioxidant compound found in red wine.  But resveratrol alone can’t entirely explain this French paradox.

So a new group of researchers has now come out saying “It’s something in the cheese!” All the cheese the French eat must counteract the high-fat diet. First off, they say, cheese decreases inflammation. In addition, they believe the fungi in moldy cheese–such as Roquefort or bleu cheeses–may improve cholesterol levels while thwarting bacteria growth. Mold was good enough to create the true “magic bullet” against infection, penicillin–so no doubt molds produce naturally active remedies.

But, clearly, the French paradox is still just that–a paradox. Think of the famous French tricolor flag (bleu, blanc, rouge)–blue cheese, white mold, and red wine.  Diet and lifestyle all work together. So while scientists still keep searching for that single elusive magic bullet, I say stop worrying. And just enjoy a nice glass of Bordeaux and the occasional bleu cheese crumble in your salad.


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