Bodybuilders sip milkshakes with whey protein to help build lean body mass; but new research shows drinking a beverage with whey protein could do more than build beefy muscles. Whey protein may benefit the most important muscle in the body – the heart. How? By helping lower blood pressure and open up blood vessels. This would be beneficial for people with early high blood pressure that’s still mild enough not to need medications.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a conglomeration of proteins that remain after cheese is processed. It’s sold in many health food stores as a dietary supplement for bodybuilders, because it contains branched-chain amino acids that help build muscle. Whey protein has also attracted the attention of the research community since some studies show it protects animals, and possibly humans, against heart disease and cancer.
Whey Protein for Lowering Blood Pressure
When researchers gave 71 young adults a beverage with whey to drink for six weeks, it decreased both their systolic and diastolic blood pressures – without causing their pressures to drop too low. Large drops in blood pressure would have the undesirable effect of causing dizziness or lightheadedness – like some blood pressure medications do.
The blood-pressure lowering benefits were only seen in those who had elevated blood pressures to begin with. Drinking a beverage with whey protein didn’t reduce blood pressure further in young people with normal blood pressure levels.
Why is Whey Protein Effective for Lowering Blood Pressure?
Researchers believe whey protein stimulates the body to produce more nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which causes blood vessels to relax and blood pressure to fall. For this reason, it could be useful in the treatment of early high blood pressure that isn’t severe enough to require medications.
This vasodilatory effect on blood vessels also provides natural protection against stroke and heart attack. One way exercise helps reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease is by increasing nitric oxide levels – just as whey protein does. Sipping a beverage with whey protein won’t replace exercise, but it could offer some of the benefits that exercise does.
Whey Protein for Early High Blood Pressure
Whey protein could help lower blood pressure in young people, but it’s best to wait for more research before heading down to the health food store to buy a whey protein supplement. No one knows the best dose for lowering blood pressure – and getting too much protein could be harmful to the kidneys.
The best way to naturally lower blood pressure is to get at least thirty minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week, eat more potassium-rich foods, use less salt, cut back on alcohol, quit smoking, practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, and lose a few pounds (if you’re overweight). Stay tuned for future research about whey protein and its heart-healthy benefits.
Nutraingredients.com “Whey proteins show blood pressure lowering powers”