Now the French are at it again, surreptitiously extending their lifespans with Roquefort cheese.
New research reported by The Telegraph suggests the sheep-milk blue cheese, aged in caves in the south of France, can help prevent cardiovascular disease. The British study, titled "Could cheese be the missing piece in the French paradox puzzle?," hopes to unearth why the French boast strong health and longevity despire their fatty diets.
The Telegraph reports that scientists at Lycotec, a British biotech company, discovered anti-inflammatory properties in the cheese, especially when it was ripened. These properties appeared to work best in the lining of the stomach, but also on the skin surface.
"We hypothesize that cheese consumption, especially of moulded varieties, may contribute to the occurrence of the 'French paradox,' " the researchers wrote. "Moulded cheeses, including Roquefort, may be even more favourable to cardiovascular health."
Aside from reducing cardiovascular mortality, the authors suggest Roquefort's anti-inflammatory elements could also serve another highly French purpose: anti-aging creams.
"The anti-inflammatory factors found in these cheeses could be extracted and used independently or as a part of today's pharmaceutical or beauty products," they wrote.
"Couldn't they just enjoy a slice of it on a baguette with a glass of Sauternes instead?" asked one incredulous commenter. Others offered that France's universal health-care system might be more to the point of the French paradox than veiny, moulded cheese.
Roquefort night cream, anyone?