People could reduce their risk factors of heart disease and stroke by drinking protein supplements normally favored by bodybuilders, scientists at the University of Reading have found.
By drinking a whey protein supplement derived from milk, study participants with mild hypertension had an estimated 8% reduction in risk of heart disease and stroke.
Those taking the supplement had lower blood pressure and cholesterol and healthier blood vessels.
Ágnes Fekete, the researcher who carried out the study at the University of Reading, said:” The results of this trial are very exciting. It shows the positive impact that dairy proteins can have on blood pressure.
“Long-term studies show that people who drink more milk tend to be healthier, but until now, there has been little work to evaluate how dairy proteins affect blood pressure in particular.”
The study looked at the impact of drinking two protein shakes per day for eight weeks on a range of heart and vascular health markers, including blood pressure, arterial stiffness and cholesterol.
Those that took part in the double blind, randomised controlled trial drank 56g of protein each day, which is equivalent to protein supplements used by bodybuilders.
The trial measured 38 pre and mild hypertension participants. It found a number of significant positive effects on markers of cardiovascular health, including:
Signiﬁcant reductions in blood pressure (BP) over the 24 hours after consuming the protein shakes. For systolic BP -3.9 mm Hg; for diastolic BP -2.5 mm Hg, compared with after control intake.
Decreased total cholesterol – a type of fat found in the bloodstream that at elevated levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (-5%) compared with effect of the control
Decreased triacylglycerol – a type of fat found in the bloodstream that at elevated levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (- 12%) compared with the effect of the control.
High-performance sportsmen and women, including bodybuilders, often take whey protein supplements as part of their training regimes to help them build muscle mass.
The protein supplements contributed 214 kilocalories to the study participants’ daily energy intake – around 10% of their recommended daily calorie intake.
However, there was no significant weight gain during the eight-week study period because the participants were asked to exchange the protein for other foods in their diet.
The lead author said: “One of the important impacts of this study is that whey protein may have a role, as part of a healthy diet, to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease, although further studies are required to confirm these results.”
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and is freely accessible to the public.
News source: University of Reading. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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