Grana Padano may be the younger, less crumbly, and less popular sibling of Parmigiano Reggiano—undisputed king of Italian cheeses—but it's got something else going for it.
According to researchers from Hypertension Unit of Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital and Catholic University of Piacenza, the hard, slow-ripened, semi-fat cheese appears to have qualities far beyond saltiness and magical cheese crystals; namely, its ability to lower blood pressure.
The research team uncovered Grana Padano's health benefits by administering two separate cheese dosages to 30 adults with hypertension. Participants were randomly assigned either Grano Padano or presumably less tasty "placebo imitation cheese," and had their blood pressure measured two months later.
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While no changes were observed in body mass index, blood lipids, or blood sugar levels, results suggested significant drops in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure—changes on par with what pharmaceutical equivalents have to offer.
"The effects are similar to what you would expect with antihypertensive medications," Giuseppe Crippa, the study's lead author, said in a press release. "Adding a little Grana Padano to a healthy diet may provide clinically significant blood pressure lowering benefits."
Crippa and his team chalk these health benefits up to high levels of angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity, which are amino acids that provide very similar blood vessel relaxation effects as ACE inhibitor blood pressure medications like Lotensin and Capoten.
In other words, if you're suffering from high blood pressure, you may want to ask your doctor about tossing the pills in favour of Grano Padano and a bit of red wine.