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Compared to other sodium-laced fare, cheese may actually do your heart some good. A recent study conducted by researchers at Penn State University has found that eating dairy cheese in place of other sodium-containing foods (such as soy cheese and pretzels) may protect your heart against high-blood pressure and some other sodium-related effects on the heart.
In the study, which was funded by Dairy Management Inc., researchers credit the cardio-protective effects to the dairy proteins in cheese, which are believed to have antioxidant properties. In a press release, lead researcher and associate professor of kinesiology at Penn State Lacy Alexander said, “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.” Since this study only evaluated how the proteins and nutrients in cheese may protect the blood vessels from negative effects of excess sodium in the short term, more research is needed to assess whether this protection works in the long term.