It’s often easy to associate cheese with other indulgent foods that are not particularly healthy. However, when eaten in moderation alongside a balanced diet, many cheese varieties actually offer distinct health benefits like improving bone health and building muscle. Now, studies have revealed another reason to keep cheese in your diet: it is linked to helping with heart disease.
The Benefits Spermidine in Cheese
Initially, researchers tested on mice to find that the dietary compound known as spermidine, which found in aged cheeses such as Parmesan, was able to extend their lifespan. Then, a study conducted in Italy confirmed that eating cheese is able to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in humans. The study consisted of 800 people in Italy, finding that those who ate more foods with spermidine, especially men, had a lower risk of heart disease and lowered blood pressures.
The Effect of Dairy and Sodium on Your Health
Now, a more recent study has been conducted at Penn State University to further the evidence that cheese contributes to the health of your cardiovascular system. At first, they found that dairy provides heart health benefits. Because of this, the researchers then looked to see if eating dairy in cheese still had the same benefits despite also containing high levels of sodium.
To find this out, the study involved participants aged 55 to 60 years old, who would visit five separate times to eat designated servings of pretzels, soy cheese, and dairy cheese. Each serving option contained the same amount of sodium. After the fifth visit, the researchers found the participants who ate the dairy cheese had lower blood pressure than those who were given pretzels or soy cheese, despite all having equal levels of sodium intake. To this, one of the researchers stated, “The dairy in the cheese canceled the sodium in it.”
At this time, researchers at Penn State are now looking to discover what exactly about the dairy in cheese makes it so beneficial to heart health. While more research is still being conducted, early evidence shows that it is likely the milk proteins and dairy fat that boosts blood flow in the body.
The Next Steps in Research
The research teams behind both the Italy and Penn State studies are still uncovering the long-term benefits of eating cheese, but for now, you can rest safe in the knowledge that adding it to a balanced diet will be a benefit to your health.