Hypertension is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is high. If left untreated, this condition can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The prevalence of high blood pressure has been steadily increasing worldwide. In Canada, over six million Canadian adults – that’s one in five – now have the condition.
The good news is that diet is a key factor in the prevention and treatment of hypertension. Healthy eating patterns, which include dairy products, have been shown to have beneficial effects on high blood pressure.
Many studies have shown that eating dairy products can help lower the risk of high blood pressure in healthy individuals. However, few studies have looked at the impact of dairy consumption on people diagnosed with mild to moderate hypertension.
The authors of this study decided to investigate how dairy product consumption could affect blood pressure in men and women with mild to moderate hypertension. They enlisted the help of 89 men and women, who were asked to eat three servings per day of dairy products (milk, cheddar cheese and yogurt) for a four-week period.
Results showed that eating three daily servings of dairy products led to a significant reduction in blood pressure in men, but not in women. According to the researchers, this is consistent with other findings that suggest men and women respond differently to blood pressure regulation.
The study also showed that consuming three daily servings of dairy products significantly improved endothelial function in both men and women. “Endothelial” refers to the cells that form the lining of blood vessels. When this inner lining is impaired, it can increase the risk of coronary artery disease and is also linked to high blood pressure.
Authors: Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier, Iris Gigleux, André J Tremblay, Luc Poirier, Benoît Lamarche, and Patrick Couture
Journal: Nutrition Journal, 2014, 13: 83
 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada website