Here’s one of those foods that’s good for the heart that seems to slip under the radar: whey protein. Whey protein comes from milk. Specifically, it’s the liquid that’s left behind after the first stages of the cheese-making process (think of “curds and whey”). Whey protein is a concentrated form of whey that’s particularly high in protein. For this reason, it’s a popular food with the weight-
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So whey protein is the supplement of choice for body-builders, but what about its heart connection? For that, we need to turn to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut. There, the research team tried to unravel just how whey protein might benefit the heart.
Previous research has already shown that whey protein intake reduces cardiovascular risk, but the researchers wanted to know the actions behind this important health benefit. So they looked at the impact of a whey-derived extract on people with an increased cardiovascular risk profile. The participants were both men and women and all had impaired blood flow in their arteries.
The researchers measured brachial artery flow, plasma amino acids, insulin, and endothelium function two hours after ingestion of a whey protein extract. A second group of study participants acted as placebo.
The research team found that brachial artery flow improvements at 120 minutes were significantly greater in the whey extract group, compared with placebo. Plasma amino acids increased at 30 minutes following whey ingestion and serum insulin increased at 15, 30 and 60 minutes. In summary, the whey protein improved endothelium dilation in the participants.
Your endothelium is the inner lining of your blood vessels. When your endothelium functions normally, it regulates coagulation of blood, platelet adhesion, and immune function.
In contrast, when your endothelium is compromised, you can be at risk for several serious complications, such as septic shock, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
If you’re worried about the health of your heart, follow this health advice: consider adding some whey protein to your weekly diet.