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Consuming sodium in the form of a dairy product, such as cheese, may protect against some of sodium's effects on the cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure, researchers say.
According to researchers, the protection comes from antioxidant properties of dairy proteins in cheese.
The results suggest that when sodium is consumed in cheese it does not have the negative vascular effects that researchers observed with sodium from non-dairy sources.
"We found that when participants ate a lot of sodium in cheese, they had better blood vessel function -- more blood flow -- compared to when they ate an equal amount of sodium from non-dairy sources -- in this case, pretzels and soy cheese," said Anna Stanhewicz, post-doctoral fellow at the Pennsylvania State University.
"The novel finding may have implications for dietary recommendations. Newer dietary recommendations suggest limiting sodium, but our data suggest that eating sodium in the form of a dairy product, such as cheese, may be protective," added Lacy Alexander, Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University.
For the study, the researchers fed participants dairy cheese, pretzels or soy cheese on five separate occasions, three days apart.
They then compared the effects of each food on the cardiovascular system using a laser-Doppler, which shines a weak laser light onto the skin.
Further, the study revealed soy served as an additional control to match the fat, salt and protein content from a dietary source that is not dairy-based.
Participants who had more nitric oxide-moderated dilation after eating dairy cheese, compared to after eating pretzels or soy cheese, the researchers observed, in the paper reported in the British Journal of Nutrition.