(RxWiki News) Milk and soy are known to offer a number of health benefits, and lowering blood pressure is another health benefit that can be chalked on this ever-increasing list.
Replacing refined carbohydrates such as soda, chips and bread made from white flour with food and beverages high in milk and soy protein may help prevent high blood pressure, and also reduce existing hypertension.
"Increase milk and soy consumption to lower your blood pressure."
Dr. Jiang He, lead researcher of the study and an epidemiologist at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, said previous studies had suggested a high carbohydrate diet could help hypertension, but it was revealed that soy and milk protein are more effective at lowering blood pressure.
The research is the first to show that milk and soy protein can lower blood pressure in those suffering from pre-hypertension and stage 1 high blood pressure.
During the randomized eight week clinical trial, 352 adult participants took 40 grams of a milk protein, soy protein or refined carbohydrate supplement each day. Those who took the milk protein supplement had a 2.3 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure compared to the refined carbohydrate supplement group. Participants who took the soy supplement experienced a 2 mmHg reduction in blood pressure. Refined carbohydrates were not linked to a blood pressure change.
Study participants either had mild hypertension or were at an increased risk for high blood pressure. Blood pressure readings were taken three times before participants began taking the supplements and twice after they had stopped taking the supplements.
Though the blood pressure decrease was small, Dr. He said the drop is significant for at-risk populations. Previous research has indicated that a 2 mmHg drop could reduce stroke risk by 6 percent and cut the risk of heart disease by 4 percent. Additional studies will be needed to make specific suggestions regarding dietary changes.
The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. It was published in journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.