Soy Products May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Although the data are inconclusive, soy products have long been touted as an important addition to the diet to keep bones strong, alleviate menopausal symptoms, and even help protect against certain cancers. Now, findings from a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show that eating just a half-cup of soy nuts each day may work as well in reducing high blood pressure as anti-hypertension medication, and may also be beneficial in lowering cholesterol.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, recruited 60 postmenopausal women, 12 of whom suffered from hypertension (high blood pressure), and put them on a Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet, which consisted of cutting fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories from their meals. Each study participant spent eight weeks on the TLC diet alone and then eight weeks on the TLC diet plus a half-cup of dry-roasted, unsalted soy nuts daily.

The study results found that when compared to the TLC diet alone, the TLC diet plus soy protein greatly reduced both the systolic (top number) and the diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure readings in the women with high blood pressure by 10 percent and 7 percent respectively. And the women with normal blood pressure saw reductions in their blood pressure of 4.5 percent and 3 percent respectively. Plus, the soy diet also decreased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the women with high blood pressure by an average of 11 percent.

While the study results look promising for the use of soy products to help curb cardiovascular risk, before introducing more soy into your diet, check with your doctor to make sure that it can be beneficial for you and ask how much soy you should have in your diet.

Controlling Your Blood Pressure Without Medication

In the meantime there are many lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.

1. Shed extra pounds. Losing just ten pounds can help reduce your blood pressure. Losing weight also makes blood pressure medications you may be taking more effective.

2. Get regular exercise. Exercising at least 30 minutes to 60 minutes most days of the week can reduce your blood pressure by four to nine millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)

3. Eat a healthy diet. Aim for a diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

4. Reduce sodium intake. Even just a small reduction in the amount of salt in your diet can have a big impact on lowering your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, try to eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

5. Don't smoke. Smoking can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more.