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Protein supplements help high blood pressure in overweight people

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By David Liu, PHD

Thursday Sept 13, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Overweight or obese people with high blood pressure untreated may want to consider using some protein supplements if they want to lower blood pressure, a new trial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests.  High blood pressure has been linked to high risk of heart disease and stroke.

Karianna FM Teunissen-Beekman from the Top Institute Food and Nutrition in Wageningen, Netherlands and colleagues conducted the trial and found overweight and obese people who used a diet with 25 percent calories from protein supplements for four weeks had their blood pressure lowered.

The researchers started the trial because they believed it is possible that dietary protein intake may help manage high blood pressure and prevent complications associated with high blood pressure.

Enrolled in the study were 99 men and women aged from 20 to 70 years with a body mass index of 25 to 35 kg/m2 who had untreated elevated blood pressure as defined as blood pressure between 130/85 and160/100 mm Hg.

For the study, two groups were asked to use for a month a diet with 25 percent of calories from protein or maltodextrin. The amounts of maltodextrin provided the same amount of calories as the amount of protein.   Protein diet consisted of 20 % pea protein, 20 % soy protein, 30 % egg protein and 30 % milk protein isolate. A total of 43 participants used 20 grams of protein a time three times a day  compared to 51 subjects using 20 grams of maltodextrin a time three times a day as control.

Those who had increased intake of protein were found to reduce their office systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg abd 2.7 mmHg, respectively.  Daytime systolic blood pressure did not differ though between the two groups, but those who used maltodextrin had higher levels of urinary sodium.

The researchers concluded "Increased protein intake, at the expense of maltodextrin, lowers BP in overweight adults with upper-range prehypertension and grade 1 hypertension."

Protein supplements available in the market include whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, and egg protein powder among others.  Protein supplements are commonly as body building agents.  But people who are at high cancer risk or cancer patients should know that protein as a source of methionine may promote cancer growth, according to other studies.

High blood pressure is a medical condition that raise risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  In the U.S. 1 in 3 adults or estimated 68 million American adults live with high blood pressure.

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