High blood pressure is often branded the “silent killer”. This is because symptoms rarely reveal themselves until it is serious. If left untreated, the condition can lead to deadly complications such as heart disease. Fortunately, certain dietary decisions have been shown to lower a person’s blood pressure reading.
Whey brought a more than six-point reduction
One study found that adding whey protein to drinks significantly lowers blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Research led by nutritional biochemist Susan Fluegel and published in International Dairy Journal found that daily doses of commonly available whey brought a more than six-point reduction in the average blood pressure of men and women with elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
While the study was confined to 71 student subjects between the ages of 18 and 26, older people with blood pressure issues would likely get similar results, said Fluegel.
Whey protein is the protein contained in whey, the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese. It is commonly consumed by athletes to boost their performance and increase their strength.
According to Terry Shultz, co-author and an emeritus professor in the former Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the findings have practical implications for personal health as well as the dairy industry.
Bolstering the findings, a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, suggested partly replacing refined carbohydrates with foods or drinks high in soy or milk protein may help prevent and treat high blood pressure.
Study participants who took a milk protein supplement had a 2.3 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) lower systolic blood pressure, compared to when they took a refined carbohydrate supplement.
Participants who took a soy protein supplement had a 2.0 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure when compared to the refined carbohydrate supplement.
Systolic blood pressure is the highest pressure when a person’s heart beats and pushes the blood round their body, explained Blood Pressure UK. It is a strong indicator of a person’s risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
Key dietary tips
Reducing salt intake and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables offers a robust defence against high blood pressure.
According to the NHS, eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables helps to lower blood pressure.
“Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day,” noted the health site.
It is also important to keep active, as the NHS explained: “Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.”
Regular exercise can also help people lose weight, which plays a key role in blood pressure control, notes the health site.
It added: “Adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.”
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