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    You Ask, I Answer: Blue Cheese

    danish_blue_cheeseA friend mentioned that the bacteria used to make blue cheeses has similar beneficial properties to the bacteria in yogurt.

    Could you clarify?

    – Corey Clark
    (Location withheld)

    Like other fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, and tempeh), aged blue cheeses — including roquefort and gorgonzola — contain health-promoting live and active cultures (AKA “bacteria”) commonly known as probiotics.

    Blue cheeses contain significant amounts of Penicillium bacteria.  In the case of roquefort cheese, or instance, the specific bacteria is Penicillium roqueforti.

    Research on the specific health benefits of these strands is limited (largely because these cheeses are not consumed in the same quantities as yogurt).  However, it has been established that these are indeed probiotics that survive the digestive process (meaning they have some effect).

    As with anything else, probiotic foods are only effective if they are eaten on a consistent basis.

    Remember, too, that probiotics appear to work best in diets that are also high in prebiotics (leafy greens, whole grains, beans, and legumes are the best sources).

    More evidence that eating real, whole, unprocessed foods is the best way to go.


    One Comment

    1. Kate said on December 11th, 2009

      The probiotics in yogurt and kefir are bacteria, but the blue in blue cheese and the culture in tempeh are not. Tempeh contains a fungus (mold) in the Rhizopus genus. Rhizopus, like Penicillium, are fungi. Acidophilus, Thermophilus, and the like (i.e., the critters in cultured dairy) are bacteria.

      Whether all of these fermenters can properly be called “probiotics” I don’t know–but they cannot all accurately be called bacteria.

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