A Cheese That Lowers Your Blood Pressure?

A cheese that lowers your blood pressure?

Don’t you love it when researchers discover that something you thought was too sweet or too fattening is really GOOD for you? Remember how great it was when you heard that dark chocolate improves blood flow, is good for your heart and is full of antioxidants? Well, if you like cheese you’re going to love the latest news.

At the April European Meeting on Hypertension 2012, Dr. Giuseppe Crippa (Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital, Piacenza, Italy) reported that adding a cheese called Grana Padano to the diet effectively reduced blood pressure in some patients with slightly high blood pressure. Grana Padano is a northern Italian semi-hard cheese that’s somewhat similar to Parmigiana-Reggiana cheese, and can either be eaten alone or grated over salad or pasta. Cistercian monks began making the cheese about 1,000 years ago in order to preserve surplus milk.

Two kinds of molecules called tripeptides give Grana Padano its blood pressure-lowering effect. The specific tripeptides in Grana Padano are produced during the fermentation of the cheese, and aren’t present in such high concentrations in any other types of cheeses or yogurts. The other nice thing about Grana Padano is that it’s lower in salt than many commonly-eaten foods.

In the study reported by Dr. Crippa, 29 mildly hypertensive patients who weren’t taking blood pressure-lowering medications were asked to eat 30 grams (a little more than 1 ounce) of Grana Padano cheese per day for 2 months and were compared with 16 similar patients who didn’t eat the cheese. All patients were monitored for blood pressure. There were no changes in BMI (Body-Mass Index), total and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose or serum potassium levels in the patients who added the cheese into their diets.

At the end of the study, patients who ate the Grana Padano cheese daily reduced their mean blood pressure (BP) by 8 millimeters of mercury for systolic BP (top number) and 7 millimeters of mercury for diastolic BP (bottom number):

Group

Office BP

Automated

BP

29 cheese-treated patients

BP before

145/90

136/96

BP end

135/82

124/78

16 non-treated patients

BP before

147/91

136/87

BP end

146/90

135/86

Before you run out and buy a pound of Grana Padano cheese, remember that cheese, like dark chocolate, should be eaten in moderation. An ounce of Grana Padano cheese contains 6 grams of fat (4 grams saturated plus 2 grams unsaturated) plus 128 – 189 mg of sodium. Also remember that this research was done on a very small number of patients, and was not the classic “double-blind” type of study normally used in scientific research. If you’re currently taking blood pressure-lowering medication, don’t stop taking it. By all means tell your physician or health care provider if you start eating Grana Padano cheese regularly.

If you’d like more information about Grana Padano cheese, here are a few links that you might find interesting: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/763351, http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-09-12/entertainment/17905514_1_parmigiano-reggiano-grana-padano-italian-cheeses, http://www.slashfood.com/2010/08/31/grana-padano-cheese-course/.

If you missed my post, “May You Live 100 Years!”, I’ll wish you “Sto Lat” and “Centi’Anni”: https://rumsonfairhavenhome.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/may-you-live-100-years/

Len

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