High blood pressure / hypertension

Cheese Lovers, Rejoice! You May Be Lowering Your Blood Pressure

If you enjoy cheese, you may be lowering your blood pressure – as long as the cheese is Italian. That’s the finding of scientists from the Hypertension Unit of Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital and Catholic University of Piacenza, Italy, who presented their research in New York City in May 2016 at the 31st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH). Grana Padano, an Italian staple similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, has been shown to have peptides (short chains of amino acids) that have strong angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity. These peptides provide similar blood vessel relaxation effects as the popular ACE inhibitor blood pressure prescriptions drugs such as benazepril (Lotensin) or captopril (Capoten).

In this randomized, cross-over, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 30 adults with hypertension (>140 mmHg and/or >90 mmHg) were provided with either an ounce per day of Grana Padano cheese or a placebo imitation cheese for two months. Blood pressure was monitored via health professionals in an in-office setting, as well as with automatic blood pressure monitors throughout the entire study. The results showed between a 7-8 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure and a 5-7 mmHg drop in diastolic blood pressure, depending on in-office monitoring versus automated monitoring systems. No changes were seen in body mass index (BMI), blood lipids or blood sugar levels.

“The effects are similar to what you would expect with antihypertensive medications,” said the study’s lead author Giuseppe Crippa, M.D., of the Hypertension Unit of Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital and Catholic University. “Adding a little Grana Padano to a healthy diet may provide clinically significant blood pressure lowering benefits.”

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