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Whey Protein Improves Heart Health

August 29, 2009 | 67,826 views
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whey, whey protein, protein, protein supplement, supplements, cardiovascular health, vascular health, colic, allergies, insulin, metabolismA whey-protein-rich ingredient may improve blood vessel function in healthy individuals, reports a new randomized, double-blind study.

Two weeks of supplementation resulted in a 1.5 percent improvement in blood flow. According to the researchers, the whey protein-derived ingredient may work via an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitory activity.

ACE inhibitors work by inhibiting the conversion of angiotensin I to the potent vasoconstrictor, angiotensin II, thereby improving blood flow and blood pressure.

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Whey protein, a by-product of milk and cheese, was promoted for its health benefits as early as 420 B.C. At that time, Hippocrates, also known as “the Father of Medicine,” recommended whey to his patients.

These days, evidence continues to mount in favor of whey, often referred to as the gold standard of protein.

The Many Health Benefits of Whey Protein

Whey protein, which is available as a protein powder supplement, has been linked to a variety of health benefits, such as:

  • Helping your pancreas-produced insulin work more effectively, which helps maintain your blood sugar level after a meal

  • Promoting healthy insulin secretion

  • Helping to promote your optimal intake of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals needed for your overall wellness

  • Supporting your immune system, as it contains immunoglobulins

  • Helping you preserve lean body tissue (particularly during exercise) as it delivers bioavailable amino acids and cysteine

  • Maintaining blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range

This latest study adds to the last benefit listed above, as it found that supplementation with the whey-derived peptide NOP-47 had a positive impact on vascular function in healthy people. Blood flow in the arm improved by 2.7 percent per minute following whey protein supplementation, but did not change for those in the control group who took a placebo.

Whey has also been shown to benefit colicky babies, and may help prevent at-risk infants from developing allergies.

Whey Protein’s Impact on Your Insulin Levels

Previous research has shown that whey protein appears to allow the insulin produced by your pancreas to work more effectively, thus lowering your blood sugar level after a meal.

This is important as research suggests lowering your blood sugar levels after meals may be more beneficial for your health than lowering fasting blood sugars.

As you’re probably aware of already, improving your insulin secretion and metabolism of glucose is imperative for optimal health. This is one of the foremost reasons for avoiding sugars and grains, as overconsumption of grains and sugary foods has a negative impact on both, and is a prime factor in developing type 2 diabetes.

For a complete discussion on the effects of insulin in your body, please read Dr. Ron Rosedale's excellent article, Insulin and Its Metabolic Effects.

If you or someone you know has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it's important for you to use every tool available (as long as it does you no harm) to normalize your blood sugar levels. It appears whey protein can help, but the effects will be far more substantial if combined with exercise.

Also remember that although high-quality whey protein can be an excellent addition to your diet, it should not be used in place of proper diet and exercise, the two mainstays of diabetes management.

Take Quality and Source Into Account

If you are interested in adding whey protein to your diet -- a smart move for the reasons noted above and much more -- I urge you to be very cautious of which brand you choose, as there can be extreme variations in the quality of the whey.

Most whey products contain whey protein derived from pasteurized, commercial dairy sources. When selecting a whey product, I strongly recommend making sure it’s made from raw, grass-fed milk, in order to obtain all of its immune-enhancing benefits.

In addition, I want to reiterate that I only promote supplements to complement your healthy diet, NOT as total meal replacements. And that holds true for whey protein supplement as well.

But if you’re on the go a lot, a high quality whey protein supplement can be beneficial, and is a far better choice than most other nutritional bars and processed convenience snacks.

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