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Whey protein may improve heart health: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 05-Aug-2009
Last updated on 14-Sep-2009 at 14:40 GMT2009-09-14T14:40:19Z

A whey-protein-rich ingredient may improve blood vessel function in healthy individuals, reports a new randomised, double-blind study supported by Glanbia.

Two weeks of supplementation with a proprietary peptide (NOP-47, Glanbia Nutritionals) resulted in a 28 per cent increase in artery dilation, report researchers from the University of Connecticut in the open access Nutrition Journal.

"The results of this preliminary study suggest that in individuals with normal endothelial function, the acute ingestion of a peptide derived from whey improves both conduit and resistance vascular responses,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr Jeff Volek.

If further studies support the vascular benefits of the ingredient, it could see it enter the already buoyant heart health market. According to a recent market research conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the market is dominated by four ingredients: phytosterols; omega-3s; beta-glucans and soy protein.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which cost €192 billion in health care costs across the 27-member state EU in 2007 according to the European Heart Network, can be sub-classified into categories such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

“This is the first time a natural peptide has been shown to positively impact vascular function using these techniques,” said Dr Volek. “Glanbia’s whey peptide could be of significant value in maintaining nitric oxide levels and vascular function. Generally, impaired vascular function is found in individuals with obesity, hypertension, abnormal cholesterol levels, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, heart failure, aging, and other chronic ailments."

Study details

Volek and his co-workers recruited 20 healthy men and women with an average age of 25, and an average BMI of 24.3 kg/m2, and randomly assigned them to receive the whey ingredient (five grams per day) or placebo for two weeks. After this time, the subjects underwent a two week washout period before being crossed over to the other intervention.

According to the study’s results, there was no difference between the groups’ flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of a blood vessel's healthy ability to relax, at the start of the study. While placebo had no effect on FMD, supplementation with the whey ingredient was associated with a significant improvement in FMD for up to 90 minutes following ingestion or between 1.1 and 2.2 per cent.

Furthermore, blood flow in the arm improved by 2.7 per cent per minute following whey protein supplementation, but did not change following placebo, said the researchers.

“These findings indicate that supplementation with a novel whey-derived peptide in healthy individuals improves vascular function,” wrote Volek and his co-workers.

Looking to the next stage in research, the scientists noted that an investigation into how the ingredient functions in people with vascular dysfunction would be “informative”.

Source: Nutrition Journal
2009, 8:34
“Acute ingestion of a novel whey-derived peptide improves vascular endothelial responses in healthy individuals: a randomized, placebo controlled trial”
Authors: K.D. Ballard, R.S. Bruno, R.L. Seip, E.E. Quann, B.M. Volk, D.J. Freidenreich, D.M. Kawiecki, B.R. Kupchak, M.-Y. Chung, W.J. Kraemer, J.S. Volek
To read the full study, please click here

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