Are you a cheese lover? If so, you have the best reason to get excited, as cheese may help protect your blood vessels from damages caused by high levels of salt in the diet.
High levels of salt can damage blood vessels
Although people all need to consume a little salt to keep the function of bodies, too much salt can damage your blood vessels and lead to high blood pressure, heart disease or strokes.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, with the ideal amount being closer to 1,500 mg for most adults. In a world filled with fast food, avoiding salt can be really hard for most people, but don't worry, the latest study suggests that cheese can save you.
Cheese can protect blood vessels
In the study, the researchers recruited 11 adults without salt-sensitive blood pressure. The participants each followed four separate diets for eight days:
A low-sodium, no-cheese diet — 1,500 mg of salt per day
A low-sodium, high-cheese diet — 1,500 mg of salt and 170 grams, or about four servings of cheese per day
A high-sodium, no-cheese diet — 5,500 mg of salt per day
A high-sodium, high-cheese diet — 5,500 mg of salt and 170 grams, or about four servings of cheese per day
In order to assess the blood vessel function of the participants after a week, the researchers injected them acetylcholine, a compound that makes blood vessels relax.
It turned out that after a week on the high-salt, no-cheese diet, the participants' blood vessels struggled to relax, suggesting that their salt intake was impairing the function of their blood vessels.
On the other hand, after a week on the high-salt, high-cheese diet, this change was not seen, suggesting that cheese can protect their blood functions.
"While the participants were on the high-sodium diet without any cheese, we saw their blood vessel function dip to what you would typically see in someone with pretty advanced cardiovascular risk factors," professor Lacy Alexander said. "But when they consumed the same amount of salt, and ate cheese as a source of that salt, those effects were completely avoided."
Although the researchers don't know about the specific reason, the data suggests that antioxidants in cheese may be a contributing factor. Larger studies in the future are still needed.
And be careful, though cheese can protect your blood vessels, it is also a high-fat dairy product that can make you gain weight. So eat moderately!