Phosphate-rich foods like processed cheese can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. According to a significant research, a high phosphate diet can increase blood pressure and promote vascular calcifications - leading to life-threatening cardiovascular disease. The key is the hormone called FGF23 (Fibroblast Growth Factor 23).
When large quantities of phosphates are consumed, production of the FGF23 hormone is stimulated which has a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. The researchers showed that FGF23 controls the reabsorption of filtered sodium in the kidneys.
Lab results showed that mice lacking FGF23 excrete higher amounts of sodium in their urine, resulting in low blood pressure. Animals with high FGF23 levels show high levels of sodium in their blood and, in turn, high blood pressure.
"In patients with chronic renal disease, both the phosphate levels and the levels of FGF23 are chronically high. This often leads to cardiovascular disease," said Reinhold Erben, head of the unit of physiology, pathophysiology and biophysics at University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.
Phosphate-rich foods include processed cheese, cola, baking powder and most processed foods. Phosphates are widely used in the food industry as preservatives and pH stabilisers. The study appeared in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.