Move over red wine and exercise, cheese has finally cemented its place as a health food thanks to a recent study. The research shows that spermidine, found in aged cheeses, can both protect your heart and extend your lifespan.
What does that mean, exactly? It means eating aged cheese has the potential to act as both an emotional AND physical shield for your heart. There's also evidence that the presence of spermidine in the Mediterranean diet may be what gives it the protective, anti-aging edge it has on other diets. If you're a normal human right now, you're reading this as cheese = the fountain of youth. And hey, even if that's a teeny exaggeration, we're not going to talk you out of it right now.
"Spermidine is a polyamine found in aged cheese and many tissues," explains Dr. Sasson Moulavi, MD and board-certified anti-aging medicine fellow at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. "It has been shown to act as an anti-aging, life-prolonging agent by causing damaged cells to be destroyed by the immune system—thus preventing disease. This process is known as autophagy and is the way the body polices and prevents aging and disease."
When researchers found the positive effects of spermidine on rodents, they knew it was time to move on to human trials, and were encouraged by the finding that it enhances lifespans (not to mention pasta bowls). They followed 800 Italians and their diets, noting that the subjects with higher spermidine intake were more likely to have lower blood pressure, a significantly lower risk of heart failure (about 40 percent), and overall reduced risk of heart disease. We always knew that a cuisine involving lots of delicious aged cheeses, creamy pastas, and fabulous pizzas is onto something.
Oh but wait: There's also some research to suggest that high fat content may counteract some of the positive effects of spermidine—so for now it may be best to stick with hard, aged cheeses, which are typically lower in fat content and higher in concentrated proteins.
Here's hoping the next study will finally prove that high-fat foods help us live forever.
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