There are plenty of good bacteria in cheese providing it has been made by natural fermentation and preferably aged a little. As an example, take a look at what is in Gouda cheese, but remember a similiar diversity occurs in all types of cheese.
With all the recent publicity about probiotic Gouda cheese, you might wonder is it vastly superior health-wise to "ordinary" Gouda cheese?
Well let's see!
Gouda cheese is commonly started using Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis and Lactococcus lactis subsp cremoris1, two bacteria commonly found in some probiotic supplements (eg Jarro-Dophilus EPS and Renew Life Ultimate Flora).
After this, non-starter bacteria will begin to multiply as conditons become favorable for them. These bacteria are not added by the cheese-maker but are already in the milk, on the cheese making equipement and in the cheese factory.
This is why it is almost impossible to duplicate some of the very famous cheeses because they are getting a little "something extra" from the very environment they are being made in.
The largest group of non-starter good bacteria in cheese come from the Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus plantarum and Pediococcus pentosaceus families1. The two Lactobacilli again are commonly found in probiotic supplements. Pediococcus pentosaceus is not in supplements but is used for fermenting some foods.
There are smaller quantities of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus curvatus, Lactobacillus perolens and Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis1. (Note:this latter is one of the starter bacteria but it also comes in as a non-starter.)
All of these are in your typical Gouda cheese and once again these are all good bacteria some of which you'll find in probiotic supplements.
Starter strains are usually gradually taken over by the non-starter strains as the cheese matures.
If you're like me and prefer to get your probiotics from real food then try some of these cheeses below.
full of beneficial lactic acid bacteria
A hundred years ago no one took probiotics - they got a diverse range of good bacteria in cheese, yogurt, fermented vegetables etc. And they didn't have all the gastrointestinal trouble we have now.
My believe is that - whilst probiotic supplements can be invaluable when you're sick - to keep and enhance your good health, all you need is real food containing a wide variety of lactic acid bacteria - just as our ancestors used to eat.
1. Van Hoorde K, Verstraete T, Vandamme P, Huys G. Diversity of lactic acid bacteria in two Flemish artisan raw milk Gouda-type cheeses. Food Microbiol. 2008 Oct;25(7):929-35. Epub 2008 Jun 21.
2. Koenraad Van Hoorde, Marc Heyndrickx, Peter Vandamme, Geert Huys. Influence of pasteurization, brining conditions and production environment on the microbiota of artisan Gouda-type cheeses. Food Microbiol. 2010 May;27(3):425-33. Epub 2009 Dec 11.