It's Not Thoroughly Unbelievable That Cheese Could Lower Your Blood Pressure

© Dragomir Misina / Alamy Stock Photo

By F&W Editors Posted May 17, 2016

Scientists have identified a possible treatment for high blood pressure, and you can grate it over pasta.

Do salty foods cause hypertension? Nutritional orthodoxy says yes, though experts have long disagreed and new studies suggest that sodium itself might not actually be dangerous (although processed foods, which often contain a lot of it, almost certainly are). And now, we have a tantalizing and perhaps literally incredible new perspective from researchers who claim that a certain salty cheese, Grana Padano, could actually lower blood pressure in people who eat it daily.

At the American Society of Hypertension's annual meeting (which continues through today, in case you're looking for something fun to crash in NYC), scientists from the Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital and Catholic University in Piacenza, Italy, reported that in their study, a daily dose of Grana Padano seemed to significantly the lower blood pressure of patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension.

Medpagetoday has details:

A daily 30-g dose of the Italian hard cheese, which is similar to Parmesan, lowered office blood pressure by a mean 6/5 mm Hg more than did a placebo of shredded bread scented to mimic the cheese and with the same fat, calcium, and sodium profile (from 139/88 mm Hg at baseline to 130/81 versus 136/86 mm Hg, P<0.05).

Some caveats: This was a small study, with 30 participants. The results haven't yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. And hopefully you will not be surprised to learn that it was funded by the Consortia Grana Padano.

But that doesn't mean its findings are implausible. Apparently, cheese contains compounds that have been shown to act as ACE inhibitors in vitro. So it's not at all unbelievable that cheese could have this effect in a human body. A similarly small study recently suggested that cherry juice could also lower blood pressure.

All the same, we're going to call foul on the placebo used in the Grana Padano trial. Shredded bread? Evidently, these scientists haven't heard that we're living in a golden era of vegan cheese.

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