One Reason for French Longevity: Molded Cheese

A new article emphasizes the benefits of cheese, especially “molded” cheese, such as Roquefort and Gorganzola. Fermentation, if that is the right word, is essential:

The advantageous properties of cheese appear dynamically during the ripening process. Cheese which has been ripened for longer has been shown to be more effective in restoration of glucose tolerance, prevention of steatosis [fat deposition inside a cell] and adipose tissue oxidative stress than short-ripened specimens. This data suggests that organic substances responsible for the health benefits of cheese emerge not merely due to mixing the ingredients required for cheese production, but rather as a result of a complex time-dependent enzymatic transformation of the cheese core controlled by probiota, temperature, humidity and possibly other factors.

Only in South Korea and Japan do people have less heart disease than in France, says the article. Readers of this blog will quickly see what South Korea, Japan, and France have in common. All of them eat much more fermented food than most people in rich countries. South Korea: kimchi. Japan: miso and pickles. France: cheese and wine.

Thanks to Peter MacLeod.

9 Replies to “One Reason for French Longevity: Molded Cheese”

  1. Dave Asprey – the Bulletproof Exec – would certainly disagree. He feels that mycotoxins in moldy (aged) cheese are more damaging than any benefit derived from the cheese.

    When it comes to food and health, does anyone really know?

    I’m at the point where I only eat what doesn’t disagree with me, only when I feel like it and not too much, regardless of what any health expert/layman says.


  2. While the Poms (Brits to the non-Aussies out there) do make some really good molded cheeses, that does not mean everyone eats them.

    When I lived there for six months I noticed that most people preferred milder cheeses. Stilton seemed to be regarded as an “upper class” cheese, and many “ordinary folks” wouldn’t eat it for that reason – and that it is normally 2-3x the price.

    Cheese aside, I didn’t see much eating of sauerkraut or the like, and ordinary yogurts don’t count for much, in my opinion.

    They do drink a lot of fermented liquids – i.e. beer – but I don’t think that counts for much, either.

  3. I’ve noticed that over time, as I refine my diet, I appreciate more and more fermented foods. They have a strong, complex flavor but are usually very simple dishes overall.


    You don’t have to treat each person as a guru; why not just look into it? I think the observational evidence and much that Seth has posted here is quite strong.

  4. John,

    I don’t treat each person as a guru, and I have spent many years “looking into it”. That’s how I came to the conclusion that nobody really knows. Yes, they have great sounding theories/hypothesis, but very little unbiased hard data to back them up.

    Since reading the Shangri-La Diet six years ago, I have questioned conventional wisdom. That’s why I read Seth, Asprey, Kruse and Peat, as well as Wolff, Sisson, Taubs and Attia. They have lots of ideas and interesting things to try, but it’s not a one size fits all world.

    Fermented foods give me acid reflux. Raw dairy does not. Hot coffee with butter and MCT oil (bulletproof coffee) gives me acid reflux. Cold coffee with raw milk, cream and MCT oil does not. A couple of tablespoons of butter on a homemade coconut bar or a plain rice cake does not.

    I eat, what most would call, a regular meal (protein, starch & fruit) once a day – dinner. I drink a 16oz glass of water with 3/4 tsp of pink sea salt as soon as I get up. I follow that up with a 16oz coffee drink (1/2 coffee & 1/2 milk, cream & MCT), plus a coconut bar with 1 1/2 tbls of butter. Later I’ll have 16oz on milk with cream and coco – maybe more coffee. Maybe a rice cake with butter in the afternoon, and another coconut bar with butter after dinner – maybe not. I also take some supplements – mainly minerals – because I don’t believe our food supply is all that nourishing. Does that leaf of kale really have all the nutrients the governments claims it has? Who really knows?

    Now, would any of those bloggers/authors/doctors, etc., mentioned above call that a “perfect” diet? No. Would I recommend anyone else doing this? No. But after years of suffering from acid reflux, and slowly gaining weight on a “healthy” diet, I’m now weight stable – where I was in my twenties – forty some years ago – and no acid reflux.

    If you’re broken – metabolically – you need to try everything to get un-broken. If you’re not, you can just rock-on until you are – maybe you never will be – or try some of the ideas put forth here, and elsewhere, and maybe stay un-broken for a while longer. You never know – who does?


    P.S. I know, this way too long of a response.

  5. Seems to me that the cheeses noted in the article are those created with the help of various kinds of fungi. Mushrooms themselves are more often found in recipes for French and Italian food than in the cuisines of northern Europe, so perhaps total fungal consumption should be considered as well.

  6. Daniel – Beer is a high calorie carbohydrate that also contains gluten. Cabbage (sauerkraut/kimchi) and cucumbers (pickles) are low calorie carbs. Cheese is a high calorie fat. So there’s more to the story than just fermentation.


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