Milk doesn’t get a lot of positive press these days — but here’s some good health news for all you dairy lovers out there: fermented milk could help lower high blood pressure.
A research team from the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Helsinki studied milk enzymes and their effect on hypertension. In particular, their study investigated the effect of a fermented milk product on already established hypertension, endothelial dysfunction (an abnormal functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels), and aortic function.
Male hypertensive rats were given active milk (containing tripeptides — or amino acids — and plant sterols), milk or water for six weeks. Systolic blood pressure was measured weekly during the course of the study. The function of arteries was investigated at the end of the study.
The research team found that active milk decreased systolic blood pressure by 16 points compared with water (178 vs. 195 mmHg). Milk also had an antihypertensive effect. Active milk improved artery endothelial dysfunction. In conclusion, the researchers stated that long-term treatment with fermented milk enriched with tripeptides and plant sterols could decrease systolic blood pressure, improve endothelial dysfunction and affect signaling pathways related to inflammatory responses.
Cow’s milk is a very good source of vitamin D and calcium — two nutrients that have a big role to play in promoting strong bones. In addition, cow’s milk is a very good source of iodine (a mineral essential for thyroid function), a very good source of riboflavin, and a good source of vitamin B12 (two vitamins that are necessary for cardiovascular health and energy production).
Here’s one health tip: try to buy milk produced by grass-fed cows. It contains a beneficial fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Research has shown that CLA inhibits several types of cancer in mice. In vitro (test tube) studies indicate that this compound could kill human skin cancer, colorectal cancer and breast-cancer cells. Other research on CLA suggests that this beneficial fat may also help lower cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis.
For more info about CLA, read the article CLA for Weight Control.