Heart Health

A trio of minerals found in dairy foods –calcium, potassium, and magnesium –may play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Research shows the low-fat Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan –supported by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association –may help manage blood pressure.

Dairy and the DASH Eating Plan: Prescription for a Healthy Heart

During National Heart Month and every month, a healthy daily eating pattern to support heart health and general well-being is always a smart idea.Even better, when it’s visually appealing and tastes good, too!Well, look no further—the DASH eating plan has you covered.DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is an eating plan supported by research and endorsed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which actually helps lower blood pressure.

The DASH plan is loaded with lots of colorful and delicious foods that make the choice to eat better, the easy and desirable choice.

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Includes whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
  • Reduces lean red meat, sweets, added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat.
  • Rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber.

Start today and get yourself on a “prescription” of the DASH plan’s many varied and flavorful foods.Talk with your doctor; it may just help you avoid a prescription for actual blood pressure medication.Eating well is good medicine for being well!

DASH to Dairy to Lower Blood Pressure

In 2017, the DASH diet turns 20 years old. For 20 years it has encouraged foods higher in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and calcium; like low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole-grains. 

Research adds to the body of evidence that dairy foods may indeed affect blood pressure and overall heart health. The Landmark DASH diet study found that certain dietary patterns can favorable affect blood pressure; especially a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy, as well as a diet reduced in saturated fat and total fat.  The study found a reduction in blood pressure within the first two weeks of the diet and participants were able to maintain the lower blood pressure over the following 6 weeks.

The researchers also found that consuming high fat dairy while following the DASH diet, like whole milk, still resulted in a lower blood pressure to the same extent as the traditional DASH diet.

Findings from the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart) suggest that consumers have several options when it comes to eating a heart-healthy diet.

Study participants with higher than normal blood pressure followed three different diets during the course of the study: 1) a carbohydrate-rich diet, 2) a higher protein diet and 3) a higher unsaturated fat diet. Each of the three diets met parameters of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet previously proven as effective in lowering blood pressure, and meet the major recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, emphasizing low-fat dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. All three dietary patterns led to reduced blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and reduced estimated coronary heart disease risk.

A second study, published in Hypertension, analyzed diet supplement records from 4,680 men and women (ages 40 to 59) from Japan, China, UK and U.S. Results showed that dietary phosphorus, a nutrient found in dairy and other foods, was associated with reduced blood pressure. In addition to phosphorus, dietary calcium and magnesium were also shown to lower blood pressure significantly.

Sacks, Frank M., et al. "Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet." New England journal of medicine 344.1 (2001): 3-10.

Swain J, et al. Characteristics of the diet patterns tested in the Optimal Micronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart): options for a heart-healthy diet. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.2008;108:257-265.

Elliott P, et al. Dietary phosphorus and blood pressure: international study of macro-and micro-nutrients and blood pressure. Hypertension. 2008;51:669-675.

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Making the DASH difference.