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The Benefits of Whey

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 09:51 AM EST

Whey is a healthy and convenient form of protein that many people outside of body building or fitness circles overlook. But it’s worth checking out.

Whey comes from cow’s milk and is a byproduct of the cheese-making process, but the size of its molecules is smaller than those of most other proteins. Consequently, it’s easier to digest and more quickly absorbed than other dairy products, other animal proteins, and soy.

As a protein powder mixed with water, juice, or in smoothies, whey can help to normalize blood pressure, control appetite, and preserve lean muscle. It also improves resistance to infections and other illnesses, and helps the human body to eliminate toxins.

The Whey Difference

All protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies use to repair muscles and other tissues on an ongoing basis. However, the exact proportion of various amino acids varies from one type of protein to another and in the case of whey, it’s especially rich in ones that are needed to recover from exercise or other challenges to the human body, such as illness.

Whey also contains nutrients that help to fight off infection. And, although fat content varies among different whey products, it generally contains little or no fat.

Studies have shown that whey is beneficial for people with heart disease, elevated cholesterol, HIV, hepatitis B, and osteoporosis. Those undergoing cancer treatment and who have high blood pressure also benefit from whey. For example, one study at Washington State University, published in the International Dairy Journal, tested whey on 71 young men and women. It found that the protein powder normalized blood pressure, lowering it only among those with high blood pressure while leaving healthy levels unchanged.

Whey also can be helpful after bariatric surgery for weight loss, where the size of the stomach is reduced, making it difficult for people to eat significant quantities of food. Because the nutrients in whey are absorbed more efficiently and quickly than from other sources of protein, stomach upset is less likely.

For weight loss, whey in place of less nutritious snacks helps to curb cravings and control appetite. And, research at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville found that whey can speed up fat loss and preserve muscle, which is important for keeping weight off.

Choosing Products

Available in ready-made drinks and a variety of powders, whey products vary in protein content per serving. These are a couple of terms that may seem confusing:

• Product descriptions may talk about “peptides.” These are tiny chains of amino acids (building blocks of protein) that are easy to assimilate.
• “Undenatured” means that the whey has been produced in a way that preserves beneficial nutrients that help to fight off infection and support overall health, in addition to providing protein. If high heat is used to make a particular whey powder, these nutrients are destroyed.

If you’re looking for overall health benefits, choose undenatured whey protein. The front of the label may not make this clear but the fact should be included in more detailed information on the back or on a manufacturer’s website. One example is Biochem 100% Whey . Unlike some powders, this one mixes well in water.

If you simply want protein that’s easy to digest, look for high protein content with little fat, sugar, or carbohydrates. Other options include added fiber for weight loss and extra vitamins and minerals. Designer Whey makes a variety of these and offers plenty of recipes.

© HealthDay

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 09:51 AM
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