It's old, it's moldy, it's blue, it smells — and some say it may hold a key to health and longevity.
It's Roquefort cheese, and researchers from a biotech company are taking a second look at the creamy culinary delight and its alleged health properties, even though (like many cheeses) it's notoriously high in fat and sodium.
Roquefort, it seems, has some profound anti-inflammatory properties, reports the the Telegraph, a British newspaper. The anti-inflammatory compounds in the rich, tangy cheese were found to work best in acidic environments like the human digestive tract.
Researchers at Lycotech, a biotech company in Cambridge, England, hope the anti-inflammatory compounds in Roquefort cheese can someday be extracted to create drugs that fight cardiovascular disease or, perhaps, be used as an anti-aging cream or in other beauty products.
The research has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Even so, the researchers' discovery may also help to explain the so-called "French Paradox," which has baffled medical researchers for years. The French — despite indulging in a diet that's rich in fats, sodium, alcohol and other dietary no-no's — seem to enjoy some of the best health in Europe.
French women, for example, have some of the highest life expectancies in Europe, at 85.3 years, The Telegraph reports. British women, by comparison, have an average life expectancy of just 82.3.
The French Paradox has also been linked to a number of other factors, including the less-sedentary lifestyle of the French and their consumption of red wine, which contains resveratrol, a compound that might have some anti-inflammatory or other beneficial properties.