In a new study, researchers found that antioxidants naturally found in cheese may help protect blood vessels from damage from high salt in the diet.
They found that when adults consumed a high sodium diet, they also experienced blood vessel dysfunction.
But, when these people consumed four servings of cheese a day alongside the same high sodium diet, they did not experience this effect.
The findings may help people balance food that tastes good with minimizing the risks that come with eating too much salt.
The research was conducted by a team from Penn State University.
While sodium is a mineral that is vital to the human body in small doses, too much dietary sodium is associated with heart risk factors like high blood pressure.
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.
Previous research has shown a connection between dairy products—even cheeses high in sodium—and improved heart health measures.
In the new study, the researchers tested 11 adults without salt-sensitive blood pressure.
These people each followed four separate diets for eight days at a time: a low-sodium, no-dairy diet; a low-sodium, high-cheese diet; a high-sodium, no-dairy diet; and a high-sodium, high-cheese diet.
The low sodium diets had participants consume 1,500 mg of salt a day, while the high sodium diets included 5,500 mg of salt per day.
The cheese diets included 170 grams, or about four servings, of several different types of cheese a day.
At the end of each week-long diet, the participants returned to the lab for testing their blood vessel function and blood pressure.
The researchers found that in the participants were on the high-sodium diet without any cheese, their blood vessel function dip to what seen in patients with advanced heart disease risk factors.
But when they consumed the same amount of salt and ate cheese as a source of that salt, those effects were completely avoided.
The data suggest that antioxidants in cheese may be a contributing factor.
There is scientific evidence that dairy-based nutrients, specifically peptides generated during the digestion of dairy proteins, have beneficial antioxidant properties.
This means that they have the ability to scavenge these oxidant molecules and thereby protect against their damaging physiological effects.
The new finding shows it is possible to incorporate more dairy products, like cheese, to reduce heart disease risk and improve vessel health without necessarily reducing total sodium.
The study is published in The Journal of Nutrition.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.