Hypertension affects over 80 per cent of diabetics and is one of the primary risk markers for metabolic syndrome.
ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors made by drug companies have been found to be beneficial in treating hypertension, particularly in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and also appear to provide good cardiovascular and renal protection. They do however have side effects.
Previous research findings indicate that the bio-active peptides in fermented dairy foods also significantly lower blood pressure and animal data suggests that this may be through inhibiting ACE.
A team from the University of Minnesota led by Joel Pins carried out a study to test the effects of an enzymatically prepared hydrolysed whey protein supplement, containing concentrated specific bio-active peptides, on multiple heart disease risk factors, including ACE activity and bradykinin, which increases vascular permeability and dilates blood vessels.
The double blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial enrolled 30 generally healthy individuals with mild/moderate hypertension. Participants were randomised to either 20g daily of hydrolysed or unmodified whey protein and were asked to not make lifestyle changes throughout the six-week trial.
As previously reported, treatment resulted in a significant reduction in blood pressure levels by the end of the first week of treatment. This effect was maintained throughout the study, reported the researchers at last week's ADA Scientific Sessions .
Treatment significantly reduced ACE activity while ACE activity remained mostly unchanged by the control protein. Meanwhile bradykinin was significantly increased by treatment from 35.63.3 pg/mL to 88.76.5 pg/mL but was not significantly changed by the control protein.
"In our study, hydrolsed whey proteins significantly reduce BP, likely by altering ACE activity and bradykinin levels," concluded the team.
A 5 mm Hg decrease in blood pressure has been equated with a 16 per cent decrease in heart disease, the leading cause of death globally.