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Soy and Milk Proteins Help Lower Blood Pressure

Good news if you're looking for ways to manage high blood pressure. A study from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in Louisiana suggests that substituting soy protein or milk protein for carbohydrates may lower systolic blood pressure (top number in a blood pressure reading).

The findings were published on July 18, 2011 in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

High blood pressure affects approximately 1 in 3 American adults and 25% of American adults have prehypertension—higher blood pressure that isn’t quite in the high blood pressure range. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.

For the study, the researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind study involving 352 adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. The participants took 40g of soy protein, milk protein, or carbohydrate supplement for 8 weeks each, in a random order. In between each supplement phase, the participants had a three week “washout period” during which they took no supplements.

The soy protein supplementation phase was associated with a 2.0 mm Hg improvement in systolic blood pressure when compared to the carbohydrate phase. The milk protein consumption phase also showed a 2.3 mm Hg improvement in systolic pressure when compared to the carbohydrate phase. Diastolic blood pressure showed only minor changes.

Previous studies have found that soy may reduce menopause symptoms, reduce bone loss and decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Soy protein can be found in tofu and soy milk.

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