Whey protein is a great strategy for preventing or treating heart-disease related risk factors. What makes whey superior? Whey promotes greater benefits compared to other protein sources, such as egg and casein. This is partly due to its superior content of total essential and branched-chain amino acids. The specific amino acid profile of whey protein and its unique components make it more than just a source of muscle-building protein, however. It helps extend the overall benefits of physical activity. Note just a few:
- Reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin response
- Boost metabolism
- Reduce body weight
- Maintain muscle mass
- Increase release of hormones that regulate appetite (leptin, cholecystokinin, GLP-1)
- Decrease in ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone.
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce arterial stiffness
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce oxidative stress
Note how whey targets two critical origins of cardiovascular disease - hypertension and abnormal lipid metabolism.
Hypertension: Certain peptides found in whey act the same way as drugs used to treat hypertension (ACE inhibitors). ACE inhibitors act by dilating blood vessels and controlling blood volume. Alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, albutensin, and alpha- and beta- lactorpohin have ACE-inhibiting properties. These food-derived peptides have effects similar to the drugs but are considered milder and safer than drugs used.
Bottom line: Whey provides blood-pressure lowering benefits without the side effects of drugs.
Lipid metabolism: Whey protein can help improve lipid profiles. Lactoferrin-derived peptides in whey can inhibit platelet aggregation (make them less sticky) and can lower blood and liver cholesterol profiles. Studies are consistent in showing the lipid-lowering effects of whey proteins, which is attributable to their relatively high branched chain amino acid content. Its antioxidant capacity can also prevent the oxidation of lipids, which can lead to atherosclerosis.
Bottom line: Whey can help keep blood cholesterol levels in check and can prevent oxidation of blood fats.
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