Gorgonzola Cheese: Health Benefits and Adverse Effects

Aditi Shenai

June 29, 2022

Gorgonzola is an Italian cheese that hails from the town of Gorgonzola. It is a variety of blue cheese. It is manufactured only using cow’s milk and has a milder flavour than other blue cheese forms. The delicious gorgonzola cheese offers several health benefits. People use it as a condiment with bread, made as the base of  a sauce, or as a dessert with sweet wine. 

Data suggests that in 2019, Gorgonzola cheese proceeds exceeded 5 million cheese wheels, making it the third most famous Italian cheese. Gorgonzola cheese export is also continuously increasing within the European Union, followed by Japan and the USA. 

Gorgonzola Cheese: An Introduction

This is a cheese with a raw paste. The manufacturing process involves heating the milk in a boiler with temperatures under 32°C. The following step involves adding the starter culture and establishing the spores of the Penicillium Roqueforti culture. It triggers mould development. Then, it requires adding fluid calf’s rennet, which turns the milk into curd. Then, the manufacturers cut the curd into small cubes and extract the excess whey. Since the Gorgonzola cheese comprises 100% cow’s milk, it contains all essential amino acids, calcium and vitamin D.

The bacterial development during the ageing process brings the blue threads, which look like marbles. The composition of Gorgonzola cheese can either be creamy or crumbly. However, as it ages, it turns out to be a little tangy. Although people occasionally think of cheese as harmful due to its fat content, the fats in Gorgonzola contribute to most of its health benefits.

Types of Gorgonzola Cheese

There are just two categories of Gorgonzola cheese 

  • Gorgonzola Dolce
  • Gorgonzola Piccante

The dolce, less aged among the two varieties, is also called sweet Gorgonzola. It is because the shorter ageing process produces a sweeter cheese than the more aged variety. Conversely, the Piccante variant is the more aged of the two Gorgonzola cheese forms, and people also refer to it as Gorgonzola Naturale, Gorgonzola Montagna, or Mountain Gorgonzola.

Nutritional Properties of Gorgonzola Cheese

Following are the nutrition values for 100g of Gorgonzola cheese.

  • Energy: 358 kCal
  • Protein: 21.8 g
  • Carbohydrate: 2.4 g
  • Total lipid (fat): 28.9 g
  • Sodium (Na): 1160.3 mg
  • Potassium: 260.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 75 mg
  • Vitamin A: 14.6% of RDA
  • Calcium: 42.8% of RDA
  • Iron: 1.7% of RDA

The HealthifyMe Note

Gorgonzola cheese is a thick supplement with ample calories; protein makes up 28% of its calories and fats around 72%. It has a low carbohydrate content.

However, it contains a reasonable amount of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats. Furthermore, Gorgonzola cheese has a decent amount of essential nutrients and minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, selenium, folate, and vitamin A. It also contains vitamin D and K, which helps retain calcium, helping improve bone and heart health.

Health Benefits of Gorgonzola Cheese

Gorgonzola cheese offers a few health advantages due to its protein, fat, nutrient, and mineral composition. Here is an overview of the potential health benefits of Gorgonzola cheese.

Promotes Cardiovascular Health

As per research, Penicillium Roqueforti is a bacteria responsible for Gorgonzola’s blue veining and flavour. Researchers speculate that Penicillium Roquefort’s capability to forestall cholesterol formation benefits cardiovascular health and adds to the “French Paradox.” It is primarily the reason behind a low coronary mortality rate despite consuming dairy cholesterol and fats. 

A 2017 meta-analysis of 15 studies shows that people who consumed cheese for at least ten years showed an inverse relationship with cardiovascular health.

Healthy for the Bones

Like several dairy products, the high calcium content in Gorgonzola cheese benefits the bones. Calcium is an essential mineral for bone strengthening, development and maintenance. Conversely, a calcium deficiency can weaken the bones and make them more susceptible to fractures. 

Most people get calcium from calcium-rich foods, but a lack of vitamin D can prevent calcium absorption, weakening the bones. Unfortunately, Gorgonzola cheese offers only 1% of the required vitamin D. So, you should pair it with vitamin D-rich foods to reap the benefits. For example, you can pair gorgonzola cheese with mushrooms or eggs to get an adequate portion of vitamin D and calcium.

Gorgonzola Cheese is a Healthy Source of Proteins

If you are on a vegetarian diet, it can be challenging to get enough protein throughout the day. However, dairy protein is an excellent source to incorporate into your diet. For example, one hundred grams of Gorgonzola cheese contains 21.8 grams of protein from high-quality milk. It is a further advantage because milk proteins (casein and whey) contain all essential amino acids that your body cannot produce, and you get them through foods. Since Gorgonzola cheese contains milk proteins, it is an excellent source of healthy proteins for you.

Promotes Better Vitamin Absorption

Vitamins like A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, requiring dietary fat for absorption and optimal transportation in the body. Insufficient fat in your body can lead to vitamin deficiency. Since Gorgonzola contains ample fats, its consumption may improve vitamin absorption in the body. However, it still requires more research to come to a conclusive judgement on the same.

Other Potential Benefits

  • Gorgonzola cheese can enhance the brain cell process, enhancing memory and fighting memory-related problems.
  • Gorgonzola consumption can also improve the immune system because it contains several essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Research shows that Gorgonzola cheese is virtually lactose-free. Hence, it is suitable for lactose-intolerant patients who want to enjoy the famous Italian cheese.

The HealthifyMe Note

Gorgonzola cheese is a nutrient-rich cheese that offers several health benefits. Although there is insufficient research on its effect on human health, the nutritional composition makes it a healthy addition to your diet.

Besides enhancing bone and cardiovascular health, the essential vitamins and minerals in Gorgonzola cheese improve your overall well being.

Best Ways to Use Gorgonzola Cheese

  • In Desserts: You can use Gorgonzola Dolce and Gorgonzola Piccante with honey, dried fruit, and sweet vinaigrettes on salads.
  • In Savoury Dishes: Savoury dishes are what people think of the most when they think of any blue cheese, particularly Gorgonzola. Salad, pasta, polenta, and risotto are ideal dishes to use Gorgonzola cheese.
  • In Sauces: Gorgonzola blends well with different varieties of creamy dairy to prepare a sauce. Try mixing it with mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, and even a little Parmesan cheese for a rich sauce perfect for pouring over a piece of fillet mignon. Furthermore, if you’re using the Gorgonzola dolce, combine it with a species of Swiss cheese, like Gruyere, for a saltier, sharper taste. It makes food very flavorful and delicious.

Possible Allergic Reactions and Side Effects

Gorgonzola can cause some allergic reactions in some people. 

If you have a milk allergy, you should avoid consuming Gorgonzola cheese. If you are unsure about having a milk allergy, consult your doctor before consuming the cheese.

Precautions and Possible Side Effects

Consuming spoiled Gorgonzola cheese can cause food poisoning, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps.

Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity

Although Gorgonzola cheese is naturally gluten-free, you must read the label carefully before consuming it. That is because manufacturers might add certain ingredients to enhance the flavour and taste, which may fluctuate its natural properties.

It can also cause Celiac sensitivity symptoms that are similar and may include:

  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Constant fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Constant abdominal discomfort
  • Persistent diarrhoea 
  • Low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • Constipation
  • Tingling 
  • Unexplained infertility

Weight Gain

Since Gorgonzola cheese is high in fats and calories, excess consumption can lead to weight gain. Hence, you should limit your consumption to moderate. Excess weight may enhance the risk of numerous health problems.

High Blood Pressure

Gorgonzola cheese contains a high amount of sodium. Excess sodium can lead to hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension is hazardous because it hampers the heart’s function of pumping blood to the body and leads to the hardening of an artery. Healthy adults should not eat more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. In addition, if you already have high blood pressure issues, you should consume Gorgonzola only after consulting your doctor. 

High Cholesterol

Gorgonzola contains a high amount of saturated fats. It may spike the cholesterol level in the body. One hundred grams of Gorgonzola cheese contains about 75 mg of dietary cholesterol. So while this cheese is beneficial in small amounts, over consumption can lead to hyperlipidemia especially when combined with other fatty foods or alcohol.

Pregnant Women Should Not Eat Gorgonzola Cheese

Gorgonzola, like soft cheese with more moisture than hard cheeses varieties, is unsafe to consume when pregnant. Pregnant women can only eat it if it is thoroughly boiled. Although Gorgonzola is usually pasteurised, it comprises more moisture than other kinds of cheese, which can lead to developing bacteria like listeria. Hence, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention instructs pregnant women not to consume sweet or blue-veined cheese.

Storage and Food Safety

  • Gorgonzola cheese can survive from 3 days to about a month whenever covered firmly and put away in the refrigerator. 
  • If you notice a hard outside surface, more obscure species, the existence of form, or a solid aroma, the cheese has probably turned sour, and you should discard it. In addition, you should discard it immediately if it has any spoilage indications. Specifically, fuzzy white, green, pink, or grey spots growing on the exterior of the gorgonzola cheese may indicate that it has taken off unpleasantly.
  • Packing gorgonzola cheese properly and practising food protection is the only way to avoid these unfavourable side impacts and enjoy this delicious cheese.
  • Some varieties of mould moreover develop mycotoxins, which are toxic compounds that can suppress the immune process, cause digestive distress, and even contribute to cancer.

The Conclusion

Gorgonzola is primarily a healthy form of cheese. However, this depends on the production method, which needs proper care and only the use of fresh milk of outstanding quality. A failure to comply with these conditions may take away its health benefits. In addition, it can prevent the development of moulds and lactic acid bacteria.

Gorgonzola is abundant in vitamin B2, B6, and B12, which are particularly important for the nervous and immune systems. For these reasons, Gorgonzola cheese is well recognised and loved all over and is the third most significant Italian cow milk DOP cheese. In addition, the triple fermentation method makes Gorgonzola gluten or lactose-free. Hence, it is suitable for those who are intolerant to dairy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is Gorgonzola cheese healthy?

A: Gorgonzola is extremely rich in vitamin B2, B6, and B12, which are very important for the nervous and immune systems. In addition, the high calcium and protein content in Gorgonzola cheese makes it beneficial to the heart and the bones. However, it is essential to consume it in moderation as the high sodium in gorgonzola can lead to side effects.

Q. Is Gorgonzola cheese anti-inflammatory?

A: Although no significant research proves the anti-inflammatory effects of Gorgonzola, a UK-based biotech company Lycotec found that Gorgonzola blue cheese may have anti-inflammatory properties that defend against many diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties are a result of the ageing process.

Q. Is Gorgonzola cheese heart healthy?

A: Yes, Gorgonzola cheese may potentially reduce cholesterol levels and avoid artery inflammation. Studies have also demonstrated that people who eat cheese regularly have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who do not consume it.

Q. Is Gorgonzola cheese a probiotic?

A: Yes, Gorgonzola is a probiotic as the manufacturing process involves the formation of yoghurt (curd), which is a probiotic. It contains healthy bacteria that make it probiotic and help promote healthy digestion.

Q. Is Gorgonzola high in sodium?

A: Yes, one hundred grams of Gorgonzola Cheese contains 1160.3 mg sodium, which is considerably high. Although the daily consumption limit of sodium for a healthy individual is 2300 mg, you get a lot of sodium from other foods you eat. Hence, it is best to eat Gorgonzola in moderation. Excess sodium consumption can lead to health issues like elevated blood pressure levels.

Q. Does Gorgonzola have sugar?

A. Although Gorgonzola cheese is considered a sweet cheese, it does not contain any sugar. Instead, it has a rich and healthy nutritional profile that consists of all essential nutrients and minerals.

Q. What is the nutritional value of Gorgonzola Cheese?

A:  Following are the nutrition values for 100g of Gorgonzola cheese.

  • Energy: 358 kCal
  • Protein: 21.8 g
  • Carbohydrate: 2.4 g
  • Total lipid (fat): 28.9 g
  • Sodium (Na): 1160.3 mg
  • Potassium: 260.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 75 mg
  • Vitamin A: 14.6% of RDA
  • Calcium: 42.8% of RDA
  • Iron: 1.7% of RDA

Q. Does Gorgonzola Cheese have carbs?

A: Although the carbohydrates in Gorgonzola cheese are minimal, it contains trace amounts of carbohydrates. One hundred grams of Gorgonzola cheese has 2.4 grams of carbohydrates.

Q. How many calories are in Gorgonzola Cheese?

A: Gorgonzola cheese is a calorie-rich cheese with one hundred grams of cheese offering 358 calories. However, it is rich in proteins and other essential nutrients, making it a healthy food. 

Q. Is Gorgonzola good for weight loss?

A: Although there is no direct relationship between Gorgonzola consumption and weight loss, the high protein content and a rich nutritional composition make it a healthy food that can help manage weight.

About the Author

M.Sc in: Dietetics and Applied Nutrition from Manipal University. Worked: All over India and have been involved in helping set up nutrition departments in start ups. Interested in lifestyle based nutrition. Mantra: A healthy lifestyle isn't a choice to be made or discarded, it's a way of life!

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