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Busting Through Blood Pressure Myths

A few weeks ago experts presented hundreds of studies at the 31st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in New York. And some of them offered surprising news.

For example, daytime napping is generally considered restorative.

However, the effect napping has on blood pressure has remained somewhat elusive. Some studies say it increases blood pressure, others say napping lowers it.

To set the record straight, Mayo Clinic researchers conducted a meta-analysis using nine different studies with over 112,000 participants.

They found that people who enjoy a little shut-eye in the middle of the day had a 13 to 19 percent increased risk for hypertension.

According to the lead researcher, more research might give us a better understanding of how midday sleep might be impacting this risk.

Another bit of research analyzed the effect of alcohol on blood pressure. And once again, the results weren’t nearly as cut and dried as you might expect.

While moderate alcohol intake in healthy individuals may help lower blood pressure, the new study shows that if you already have high blood pressure, it may worsen the condition.

In particular, even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with left ventricular diastolic dysfunction in patients with elevated blood pressure.

However, one of the studies presented at the annual meeting will give cheese-lovers something to cheer about.

If you enjoy eating cheese, it’s probably become something of a “guilty pleasure.” That’s because it’s been villainized for years due to its high content of saturated fat.

Italian researchers have found that a specific type of Italian cheese, Grano Padano, can help lower blood pressure. It’s similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and contains peptides that have strong angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity.

These peptides work like popular ACE inhibitor drugs like benazepril (Lotensin) or captopril (Capoten) to relax your blood vessels.

Just an ounce of Grano Padano cheese daily was shown to help reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by seven to eight mmHg. And it lowered diastolic blood pressure by five to seven mmHg.

“The effects are similar to what you would expect with antihypertensive medications,” said the study’s lead author Giuseppe Crippa, M.D. “Adding a little Grana Padano to a healthy diet may provide clinically significant blood pressure lowering benefits.”

SOURCE: New studies reveal Italian cheese, alcohol, and sleep impact blood pressure. Press Release. Pollock Communications via EurekAlert. May 2016.

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