In a recent study, researchers from National University of Singapore find more evidence that dairy products are linked to healthy blood pressure levels.
It is known that high blood pressure is a big risk factor for several chronic diseases, such as stroke and heart disease.
Scientists have been investigating its causes and effective ways to maintain healthy blood pressure throughout life.
One such way is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating pattern, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy foods, whole grains, lean meats, fish and poultry, nuts, and beans.
The DASH diet is also high in fiber and controls sodium intake.
Although the DASH eating plan works well to lower blood pressure, but the reason behind it is not clear.
Many believe that its emphasis on dairy foods may be important, because at least in part, calcium can help maintain cardiovascular health.
In addition, dairy foods provide high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals – all of which likely work together to keep people healthy.
In the current study, the team of studied diet-health associations in 37,000 Chinese men and women who consumed relatively low amounts of dairy products.
Participants in this study were recruited as part of the Singapore Chinese Health Study between 1993 and 1998 and were followed until 2010.
All the subjects were healthy with no history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease when they were enrolled.
Occurrence of newly-diagnosed hypertension was diagnosed by physicians and documented twice during the study.
The researchers found that dairy food intake was inversely linked to risk of becoming hypertensive during the follow-up period.
Specifically, people consuming the highest levels were 7% less likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure than those consuming the least.
In addition, daily milk drinkers (mostly one glass per day) were 6% less likely than people consuming no milk.
Although there was an overall association between higher calcium consumption from dairy and lower risk for hypertension, no such correlation was found when nondairy calcium was considered.
The team suggests that the effect of dairy foods on lowering blood pressure may be not due simply to their calcium content.
The team is led by Drs. Mohammad Talaei and Woon-Puay Koh (National University of Singapore and Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore).
The study is published in The Journal of Nutrition.
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Source: The Journal of Nutrition.