By Lucy Brown The use of milk thorns in the form of almonds may be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
The study analysed data from more than 6,000 people over a 20-year period and found that those with milk thistles who drank almond milk had a 20% lower risk of developing hypertension.
“Almond milk is high in polyphenols, which are known to be anti-inflammatory and protective against vascular disease,” said lead author Dr Michael Clements, a professor of medicine at the University of Sheffield and co-director of the Cardiovascular Health Centre at the Sheffield Heart Institute.
“The benefits of this milk thirst relief appear to be most apparent in those with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease.”
He said the results were particularly promising for women who drink almond milk as they may be more likely to drink regular milk and to take other measures that may help reduce their risk of hypertension.
The results of the study, which involved the NHS and a national register of cases of hypertension, have been published in BMJ Open.
Dr Clements and colleagues analysed data on 6,066 people over the 20 years.
The participants were drawn from the NHS register of hypertension and were followed for a period of 12 years.
There were 4,898 incident cases of the metabolic syndrome and 1,934 people with normal blood pressure.
Of the participants with hypertension, the risk of the development of hypertension was 21.6% in those who drank milk thistsome milk and 20.1% in people who did not drink the milk.
The analysis showed that people with high blood pressure had a 30% reduced risk in the long-term, and in those aged 65 years and over the risk was 17.1%.
However, the authors cautioned that the risk reduction was not always statistically significant.
“While the overall results are reassuring, it is important to be cautious in interpreting the results, especially in the context of an increasing number of studies showing that the consumption of milk products with polyphenolic constituents may be protective against hypertension,” Dr Cules said.
The findings suggest that the milk thistelytic properties of milk and its use as an alternative to dairy products could be beneficial, the researchers said.
Dr Michael W. Clements is a professor in the department of medicine, health and social care at the Department of Medicine, Sheffield, and the Cardiology and Nutrition Department at the Health and Social Care Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University.
The new study has been published as “Almonds, milk thisters, and risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction: a cohort study”, in BMJS Open.