Milk Proteins and Exercise May Lower Blood Pressure

By Mark Lange, PhD

A new study from Florida State University recruited 33 obese and sedentary women with an average age of 30 for this randomized controlled study.  The women were split up into three groups, all of whom performed moderate exercise three times per week.  The first group was given 30 grams of whey protein, the second group received 30 grams of casein per day, and the third group was given placebo for four weeks.

The groups given whey and casein supplements had a decreased brachial systolic blood pressure of about 5 mm Hg and reduction in aortic systolic blood pressure of 7 and 6 mm Hg, compared to values at the start of the study and the control (exercise only) group.  The reduction in blood pressure was attributed to the major nutrients provided in dairy products, including protein and calcium.  These nutrients inhibit the action of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and increase nitric oxide-mediate blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation).  ACE inhibitors work by inhibiting the conversion of angiotensin I to the potent vasoconstrictor, angiotensin II, thereby improving blood flow and blood pressure.
These results are significant because only a small decrease in blood pressure (similar to that shown in this study) can dramatically decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Source:  American Journal of Hypertension.  March 2014, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 338-344