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November 17, 2010

Study Finds Both Intact and Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Normalize Blood Pressure in Young Men and Women

WomanWithMilk In previous Integrated Supplements Blog entries we’ve seen that whey protein has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve markers of cardiovascular risk in overweight and obese individuals.

Similarly, in a recent study published in the International Dairy Journal, researchers from Washington State University found that whey protein consumption led to lowered blood pressure in normal–weight young men and women with prehypertension and/or stage 1 hypertension:

Study Link – Whey beverages decrease blood pressure in prehypertensive and hypertensive young men and women.

Some researchers have speculated that certain types of hydrolyzed whey (i.e., whey broken down into smaller peptides via enzymes), may impart unique blood–pressure–lowering effects via the ability of certain peptides to inhibit angiotensin–converting enzyme (ACE).

ACE Inhibitors

Specifically, ACE inhibitors work by inhibiting the body's production of a peptide called angiotensin II. Among other effects, Angiotensin II increases aldosterone secretion which increases the amount of salt and water the body retains. Angiotensin II also stimulates sympathetic (e.g., adrenaline) activity which causes blood vessels to contract. Together, the multiple effects of angiotensin II serve to elevate blood pressure.

Many medications used to control high blood pressure act as potent ACE inhibitors, but recent research suggests that some peptides found in food proteins may have mild ACE–inhibitory activity as well:

Study Link – Effect of peptides derived from food proteins on blood pressure: a meta–analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Quote from the above study:

Peptides derived from food proteins may lead to significantly reduced blood pressure and could therefore be a supplement or alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for mild hypertension. Their effect seems more pronounced, or at least comparable, to that of other food components studied by randomized controlled trials.

ACE Inhibitors in Dairy

Using milk fermented with the lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus helveticus, Japanese researchers have isolated peptides from dairy protein which exhibit ACE–inhibiting activity:

Study Link - Effect of powdered fermented milk with Lactobacillus helveticus on subjects with high–normal blood pressure or mild hypertension.

Quote from the above study:

Daily ingestion of the tablets containing powdered fermented milk with L. helveticus CM4 in subjects with high–normal blood pressure or mild hypertension reduces elevated blood pressure without any adverse effects.

Reviews of the research on dairy–derived ACE inhibitor peptides (called lactotripeptides in the following study) have found that these peptides appear to be safe and effective aids to blood pressure control.

Study Link - Lactotripeptides and antihypertensive effects: a critical review.

Quote from the above study:

Based on the currently available data, lactotripeptides appear to be safe and effective. Thus, they can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to prevent or reduce high blood pressure.

Whey Peptides or Intact Whey?

Noting that the ACE–inhibiting property of dairy proteins may be dependent upon certain protein peptides, researchers and food chemists have devised ways to hydrolyze, or, break down proteins enzymatically so as to yield biologically–active amounts of ACE–inhibiting peptides. In their recent study, researchers from the University of Washington compared the blood–pressure–lowering effects of both intact whey protein and whey protein specifically hydrolyzed to yield greater levels of active ACE–inhibiting peptides.

Somewhat surprisingly, the researchers found that both intact whey protein and the hydrolyzed whey protein exhibited similar beneficial effects on blood pressure and other health markers measured:

Study Link – Whey beverages decrease blood pressure in prehypertensive and hypertensive young men and women.

Quote from the above study:

The present study did not show a significant lowering of [blood pressure] in subjects consuming a hydrolyzed whey protein supplemented beverage compared to an un–hydrolyzed whey protein supplemented beverage.

Subjects consuming either hydrolyzed protein or non–hydrolyzed protein achieved reductions in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, total cholesterol, LDL–C – leading the researchers to speculate that these benefits may have been due to other components of whey protein besides ACE–inhibiting peptides, or that the our bodies are able to break down whey protein sufficiently well such that hydrolyzed proteins are unnecessary:

Quote from the above study:

This suggests that the [blood pressure] decline may be due to some whey factor other than an antihypertensive peptide(s) that was produced during hydrolysis or that sufficient protein breakdown took place in the digestive tract to create naturally occurring antihypertensive peptides.

In fact, there are many components of whey protein – not just ACE–inhibiting peptides – which may contribute to the blood–pressure lowering and overall health effects noted in this study. Unique proteins such as lactoferrin, glycomacropeptide, and glutamylcysteine may play important roles as well.

Despite some current marketing hype for hydrolyzed whey proteins in the commercial and sports nutrition realm, this is yet another study which shows that hydrolyzed whey proteins offer no benefit over intact, undenatured whey proteins. In a practical sense, it’s important to realize as well that many different types of hydrolyzed whey protein exist depending upon the type of enzymes used to achieve hydrolysis (the hydrolyzed proteins in the above study, for example, were specifically created to yield ACE–inhibiting peptides). Though
hydrolyzed whey proteins are currently being sold in the nutritional supplement market, little to no attention has been given to the exact type of structural changes that occur to whey proteins as a result of different means of hydrolyzation. In all likelihood, many of the health–promoting benefits of undenatured whey protein may be lost when whey protein in hydrolyzed.

This is, perhaps, another reason to choose the cleanest, most undenatured whey protein isolate available.

Related Posts

Study Finds Whey Protein Improves Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight Individuals

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