Cheese lovers, rejoice! A new US study found that cheese protects your blood vessels from damage caused by high levels of salt in the diet.
Sodium is a mineral that is vital to the human body in small doses. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, with the ideal amount being closer to 1,500 mg for most adults.
It is known that too much dietary sodium is associated with cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure. However, the study carried out by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, found that when adults consume a high sodium diet, they do not experience blood vessel dysfunction if they incorporate cheese into their diet.
A report published by the University of Pennsylvania website said the researchers recruited 11 adults without salt-sensitive blood pressure for the study. They each followed four separate diets for eight days at a time.
At the end of each week-long diet, the participants returned to the lab for testing. The researchers inserted tiny fibers under the participants' skin and applied a small amount of the drug acetylcholine, a compound that signals blood vessels to relax.
The researchers found that after a week on the high sodium, no cheese diet, the participants' blood vessels did not respond as well to the acetylcholine. But this was not seen after the high sodium, high cheese diet.
Billie Alba, who led the study, wrote in the report "Consuming high amounts of sodium causes an increase in molecules that are harmful to blood vessel health and overall heart health. The dairy-based nutrients, specifically peptides generated during the digestion of dairy proteins, have beneficial antioxidant properties, meaning that they have the ability to scavenge these oxidant molecules and thereby protect against their damaging physiological effects."
"The study's main point is that if it's difficult for you to reduce your salt intake, you should incorporate more dairy products, like cheese into your diet, as an alternative strategy to reduce cardiovascular risk," she noted.