Drinking milk helps lower your blood pressure, but you don't need a lot to get the job done. Milk is nutritionally dense, filled with vitamins and minerals. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that adults drink 3 cups of fat free or low-fat milk daily. The recommended daily intake for children ages 2 to 4 is 2 cups, 2.5 cups for children ages 4 to 8 and 3 cups for children and adolescents ages 9 to 18.
The nutrients in 1 cup of 1 percent fat milk include 305 milligrams of calcium, 27 milligrams of magnesium and 366 milligrams of potassium. Your body uses all three minerals to regulate your blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium comprises just 1 percent of your blood volume, but your body works hard to maintain its magnesium balance. In the April 2005 issue of "Hypertension," researchers from St. Georges University in England write that in one study, individuals with higher potassium intakes also had lower blood pressure. As for calcium, it provides the greatest benefit if you already have high blood pressure.
In the February 2008 issue of "Hypertension," Harvard researchers describe the results of the Women's Health Survey, a study of 28,886 middle-aged and elderly women. Researchers discovered that women who drank non-fat milk and consumed large amounts of vitamin D and calcium through dietary sources, lowered their risk of developing hypertension.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, is an eating plan developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to help combat high blood pressure. In a June 2011 press release, Anna Whiting Sorrell, director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, writes that DASH remains "the gold standard for reducing blood pressure by eating better." The DASH plan recommends that you consume two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products and increase your consumption of lean meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The plan also restricts consumption of sugar, saturated fats and sodium.
Despite the recognized success of the DASH plan, most Americans with high blood pressure do not follow its suggestions. In the February 11, 2008 issue of the "Archives of Internal Medicine," researchers note that people diagnosed with hypertension adhered to DASH dietary suggestions less frequently than individuals with normal blood pressure. Adherence to DASH guidelines have steadily dimenished since the guidelines were first released.
Is This an Emergency?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dietary Guidelines for Americans; 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- "Hypertension"; Effect of Short-Term Supplementation of Potassium Chloride and Potassium Citrate on Blood Pressure in Hypertensives; Feng J. He, Ph.D., et al.; April 2005
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- "Hypertension"; Dietary Intake of Dairy Products, Calcium, and Vitamin D and the Risk of Hypertension in Middle-Aged and Older Women; Lu Wang, M.D., Ph.D., et al.; February 2008
- Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services; Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH):Smart Eating to Help Lower Your Blood Pressure; June 7, 2011
- "Archives of Internal Medicine"; Deteriorating Dietary Habits Among Adults With Hypertension; Philip B. Mellen, M.D., M.S., et al.; February 11, 2008