Magical Blue Cheese Thinking with a Dab of Science
The sciency food news of the week says blue cheese has magical health benefits, thanks to a compound found in aged cheeses – spermidine. Medical Daily tells us:
New research suggests that certain types of this rich dairy staple may be able to promote heart health and even extend your lifespan.
The Sydney Morning Herald says “aged cheese could help you age well.”
Needless to say, reporters are spreading a dab of science way too thin. Two bits of data are fuelling this dubious reporting. First is data from lab rats that didn’t even get any cheese. That’s just not fair to the rats.
What the rats did get was spermidine added to their water. The researchers found lower blood pressure in the rats that received spermidine. They found longer lifespans under some conditions. They also saw signs of slower progression toward heart failure in these rats. They were bred to be susceptible.
In the same report, researchers also published data on spermidine consumption in a group of about 800 human subjects. Spermidine consumption was not directly measured. Researchers estimated its consumption from dietary self-reports. In this data the researchers found an association between estimates of spermidine and cardiovascular health. And by the way, these humans didn’t get most of their spermidine from cheese. They got it from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
So what we have here is some interesting biochemical research. We have some great leads for future research. But we have no evidence that cheese will make you live longer.
The best reason to eat blue cheese is because you like it. An excess is probably a bad idea. But in moderation, good aged cheese fits right into a healthy diet and a good life.
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November 28, 2016