Daily dose of dairy

Low fat dairy products may help reduce hypertension

People who regularly consume low-fat dairy products may be less likely to develop hypertension, researchers have found. The researchers looked at the eating habits of almost 5,000 people taking part in a heart study run by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and found that those who took in two or more servings of low-fat foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt tended to have lower blood pressure. The study, which appeared in the journal Hypertension, found that eating dairy was associated with a lower incidence of high blood pressure and lower readings of the systolic pressure (the top and higher number, reflecting the measurement when the heart beats). "These findings lend support to the recommendation of low-fat dairy consumption as a means to lower blood pressure," wrote the researchers, who were led by Dr. Luc Djousse of Harvard Medical School. The study, which did not receive financing from the dairy industry, noted that the current recommendations for lowering blood pressure, apart from medication, were for people to exercise and follow a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, as well as potassium, manganese and calcium, which are in dairy foods. But earlier studies have been inconclusive about the relationship between dairy and blood pressure, the researchers noted, and questions have been raised about whether any value may be cancelled out by the saturated fats they contain. While this study did find a link between dairy consumption and lower blood pressure, it was not clear why this was so. Calcium alone did not appear responsible for the benefit, suggesting that some other nutrient may play a role. - NYT

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