High blood pressure, diabetes and obesity all fall under the medical term metallic syndrome (MetS) and are associated with greater risk of heart disease. But research carried out by scientists at McMaster University in Canada has suggested how these could be avoided – by eating full fat milk and cheese.
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Previous advice from experts has urged adults to avoid full fat dairy products in order to stay healthy.
But the new study now suggests theses foods could be good for you.
The study involved 140,000 people from 21 countries and was conducted over nine years.
Questionnaires were used to assess participants’ diets over the duration of a year.
A serving of milk or cup of yoghurt was considered 244g, a slice of cheese 15g and butter 5g.
The researchers wrote in a BMJ journal: “Higher intake of whole fat (but not low fat) dairy was associated with a lower prevalence of MetS.”
They also hope their findings will help inform worldwide health initiatives to combat serious health problems.
Study author Balaji Bhavadharini said: “We report that intake of dairy products, especially whole fat products, is associated with lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its individual components at baseline, and a lower risk of hypertension and diabetes during follow-up.
“If our findings are confirmed in sufficiently large and long term trials, then increasing dairy consumption may represent a feasible and low cost approach to reducing metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, and ultimately cardiovascular disease events worldwide.”
The main causes of high blood pressure
It’s not always clear what causes high blood pressure, according to the NHS, but certain things can increase your risk.
You’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure if you:
- Are over the age of 65
- Are overweight
- Are of African or Caribbean descent
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Do not do enough exercise
- Drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- Do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
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The health body advises: “Making healthy lifestyle changes can help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.”
How to prevent and lower high blood pressure
Lifestyle changes that can help prevent and lower high blood pressure include:
- Reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet
- Cut back on alcohol
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Exercise regularly
- Cut down on caffeine
- Stop smoking
Some people with the condition may need to take one or more medicines to stop their blood pressure getting too high.
How to find out if you have high blood pressure
Because the condition doesn’t usually present any symptoms, the best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to regularly check your blood pressure.
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers – the systolic pressure (higher number), which is the force at which the heart pumps blood around the body, and the diastolic pressure (lower number), which is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher, or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80.
Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
You can check your blood pressure at home with a home blood pressure monitor if you’re unable to go to your GP surgery or local pharmacy.
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