Low-fat dairy can lower women's blood pressure

March 4, 2008 in Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Low-fat dairy can lower women's blood pressure

Women who regularly consume low-fat milk or yogurt may have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a new study published in the journal Hypertension.

In this study, nearly 29,000 women age 45 and up completed diet questionnaires that asked about calcium and vitamin D supplementation, as well as food sources of these nutrients.

After a ten years, researchers found that women who consumed the most low-fat dairy foods were less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to women rarely enjoyed these foods.  

Calcium and vitamin D from supplements were unrelated to risk of high blood pressure.  High fat milk and dairy foods - cheese, ice cream, cream - didn't improve blood pressure either.

The authors of this study believe calcium may work in concert with other nutrients in milk to lower blood pressure. The saturated fat in high-fat milk products seems to negate the positive effects of calcium.

Calcium is an essential mineral that helps muscles contract and relax. It plays a major role in keeping blood pressure low and has been included in the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

This eating plan recommends getting 1,250 milligrams of calcium per day by eating 2 to 3 servings of fat-free or low-fat milk products. One cup (250 ml) of skim milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium.  

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, eighteen percent of women have high blood pressure and up to half of those women are unaware of their condition.  

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. In addition to adequate calcium intake, it can be controlled by maintaining a healthy weight, choosing foods that are lower in sodium, and drinking alcohol in moderation.

For more tips on how to manage high blood pressure with diet, check out Leslie Beck's Foods that Fight Disease.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.