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Lifestyles of Westchester County/JUNE 2013 VOL.15 NO.97

INSIDE WESTCHESTER COUNTY

Healthy

Lifestyle June 2013 | SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO

THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW

STARTING STRONG How to make the gym work for you from the get-go

THE HIDDEN TRUTH Lesser known benefits of cardiovascular exercise

MAKING THE CUT Simple ways to cut calories

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The lesser known benefits of

cardiovascular exercise Active people tend to have varying views on cardiovascular exercise, or cardio. Often done at the end of a workout, cardio rarely evokes a staid response from fitness afficionados asked to share their thoughts on this valuable type of exercise. Fans of cardio will admit they love the feeling they get during and after a rigorous round of this type of exercise, which includes activities like running, cycling and walking. But those men and women who dread their time on the treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike are likely to categorize cardio as a boring and uninspiring activity. But regardless of a person’s opinion on cardio, there’s no denying it offers numerous benefits, many of which even avid athletes might be unaware. • Cardio boosts brain power. Perhaps the least known benefit of cardio is its positive impact on the brain. During cardiovascular exercise, the brain is being flooded with chemicals that improve decision making, memory and problem solving. Cardio can also help preserve memory and improve its ability to learn. So while the physical

benefits of exercise are widely known and noticeable to the naked eye, cardiovascular exercise can be just as effective at improving cognitive function. • Cardio can improve your appearance. Improving physical appearance is a motivating factor for many physically active men and women, and cardio can go a long way toward improving physical appearance because it increases lean body tissue while reducing fat. Cardiovascular exercise is a healthy way to burn calories, and burning calories is a healthy means to losing weight. • Cardio can help reduce the severity of preexisting conditions. Arthritis sufferers have long looked to cardiovascular exercise as a healthy means to relieving the pain caused by their condition. Water exercises like swimming make for great cardiovascular exercises, especially for those looking to relieve arthritis pain. That’s because an exercise such as swimming keeps joints moving while strengthening muscles surrounding those joints. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise also can lower blood pressure.

• Cardio can improve mood. Cardiovascular exercise can benefit men and women suffering from depression or those who are simply having a bad day. That’s because the mood-boosting chemical serotonin is released to the brain during cardio, helping to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of depression or fatigue. • Cardio can make tomorrow’s workout easier. Recovery time is important to athletes, many of whom want to ensure

their bodies are ready for tomorrow’s workout even before they finish today’s. Cardiovascular exercise helps to deliver more oxygen-rich blood to muscle tissue, aiding in tissue repair and recovery. The quicker your body can rebound from today’s workout, the more effective tomorrow’s workout will be. So even if you don’t enjoy that pit stop at the treadmill before you head home, it’s paying more dividends than you might know.


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Simple ways to cut calories P

eople take a variety of approaches when attempting to lose weight. Some try fad diets that may or may not produce results, while others commit to a daily exercise regimen. One of the more popular ways men and women attempt to lose weight is to cut calo-

When making a sandwich, hold the mayo in favor of mustard, which contains far fewer calories.

ries from their diets. Cutting calories can be an effective way to shed extra pounds, but it should be done in a way that does not compromise your overall health for the sake of a slimmer waistline. Any changes adults make to their diets should be discussed with their physicians prior to going forward, but the following are a handful of healthy ways to cut calories. • Put away the potato chips. Potato chips are a favorite snack of many people, but those delicious chips could be a reason your belt size is getting bigger. Instead of potato chips, opt for air-popped popcorn, which contains roughly one-fourth the amount of calories as potato chips. Popcorn also is a whole grain, which means you’ll be adding fiber, minerals and vitamins to your diet while decreasing your caloric intake. • Add healthy flavor to your pasta. Perhaps because it’s become increasingly available in recent years, whole grain pasta has risen in popularity. But men and women looking to cut calories can go even further when cooking up some pasta for dinner.

When making whole grain pasta, cook about half the amount you normally would, and then add fresh or even frozen vegetables to the mix. Reducing the amount of pasta will reduce the amount of calories you consume, and the vegetables will add nutrients to your diet. Another way to cut calories from your favorite pasta dishes is to leave the parmesan cheese on the sideline. Parmesan cheese can be loaded with in calories, and the vegetables should add all the flavor you need. • Choose the right condiment for your sandwich. Many people love a good deli sandwich slathered in mayonnaise. But while that sandwich might be delicious, that mayo could be adding a significant number of calories to your meal. One tablespoon of mayonnaise can have as many as 57 calories, while an alternative like mustard can be just as flavorful while containing far fewer calories. • Say “so long” to soft drinks. Perhaps no method to cutting calories is more effective for soft drink lovers than cutting soft drinks from their diets. Sugary beverages are not only loaded with calories, but such

drinks offset the body’s blood sugar, increasing appetite as a result. Instead of reaching for a soft drink at the convenience store or at home, try water. It’s a much healthier alternative, and it’s sure to help you achieve a slimmer waistline. • Don’t forget to eat fruit. Fruit is not just a fresh and delicious snack, it’s also a fiber- and antioxidant-rich and low-calorie alternative to more popular snack foods. Strawberries are a popular fruit, and men and women might be surprised to learn that a pound of strawberries contains nearly the same amount of calories as a half-cup of vanilla ice cream. When eating breakfast in the morning, add some fruit to your cereal or oatmeal. Allowing the fruit to occupy some of the space that would otherwise be occupied by more cereal or oatmeal will lower your caloric intake while adding fiber and antioxidants to your diet. When choosing fruits, opt for fresh instead of dried fruit. Sugar and calories are much more concentrated in dried fruits than fresh fruits, so choose fresh fruits whenever possible.


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A lifetime of healthy vision is the goal of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary’s Rye Brook office By Alfonso Ponce, MD

Previously in Inside Westchester, we discussed the importance of remaining active and spending time outdoors for the health of your eyes. The younger you are when you start, the better your body will be prepared to confront the changes that happen with aging. A study published in the prestigious journal Ophthalmology in May reported that children who spent more time playing outdoors will be less likely to develop myopia compared to children spending the same amount of time indoors. High myopia (extreme nearsightedness) is an eye condition that can put your eye at risk for many other problems. If left uncorrected in a child, it can produce amblyopia (or lazy eye), preventing that eye to see clear permanently. Eyes that develop high myopia are more prone to have retinal tears and detachment which can lead to blindness in later years if left untreated. A good ophthalmological and retinal evaluation can determine if you have myopia or any retinal problems. Another benefit of remaining active outdoors is to maintain good circulation in the body and to consume ingested calories, reducing the chance to develop systemic diseases. Mayor Bloomberg launched a campaign in New York City to restrict the ingestion of sugar-loaded beverages since there’s a direct link to obesity.

Obesity in turn can produce diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and high cholesterol–all of which are risk factors for diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking is another risk factor in eye disease. So, even if you are taking medication to keep cholesterol or systemic blood pressure controlled, but you are a smoker, it’s equally important to check your retina early before it gets affected. In addition to time outdoors and control of smoking, your eyes are helped by a good balanced diet including green vegetables that are high in antioxidants and Lutein, fish (especially salmon that is rich in omega acid) and berries. Commercially available supplements that contain Lutein, beta carotene and omega-3 can support the health of your eye. But always discuss the use of supplements with your ophthalmologist or your primary physician before starting taking them. So summer is here, get your hiking gear and hit the beautiful trails that the area has to offer. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sun block. And remember, balance is the key to a healthy life. To make an appointment with Dr. Ponce, please call 914-934-5280 or visit www.nyee. edu/westchester to book online through ZocDoc.

Reasons to include

more dairy in your diet

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healthy diet can improve quality of life and reduce a person’s risk of developing disease or other negative health conditions. For example, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can boost the immune system and promote cardiovascular health, lowering your risk of heart disease in the process. While the benefits of including fruits and vegetables in your diet are widely known, the medical benefits of dairy are often overlooked. The following are a handful of ways that dairy products like low-fat milk, cottage cheese and yogurt can make a nutritious and beneficial addition to your diet. • Dairy packs a protein- and calcium-laden punch. One cup of nonfat yogurt can provide as much as one-third of your daily recommended calcium intake and nearly 20 percent of your daily recommended protein intake. Though dairy products like ice cream don’t pack the same nutritious punch as yogurt, healthier fare like reduced-fat cheese and skim milk can go a long way toward meeting your daily intake of protein and calcium. • Dairy is a great source of vitamin D. In addition to providing sufficient calcium and protein, dairy also helps men, women and children boost their vitamin D. That’s especially important in the winter months when people tend to get less exposure to the sun. Exposure to the sun is a natural way to boost your vitamin D, but the shorter days and colder weather of winter can make it hard to get sufficient vitamin D during that time of year. Dairy products like low-fat milk can boost your vitamin D, which can improve your bone health and, according to recent research, might help reduce your cancer risk. • Dairy may help lower your blood pressure. Men and women with high blood pressure might benefit from including more dairy in their diets. In a study of 5,000 adults, Spanish researchers found that those who reported consuming the most low-fat dairy products were more than 50 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who consumed less low-fat dairy. Though researchers are not certain as to the reason behind low-fat dairy products’ impact

on blood pressure, some theorize that their calcium and protein content are likely behind the benefit. • Dairy benefits your bones. Dairy has long been known to improve bone density. But it’s not just seniors who benefit from the bonestrengthening impact of dairy. Youngsters who consume dairy can also expect an increase in bone mass, which can make them less susceptible to injuries like broken bones. Seniors who consume dairy to improve their bone density should know that a recent study from researchers at the Institute for Aging Research found that not all dairy products are equal when it comes to improving bone density. While milk and yogurt were linked to higher bone mineral density, dairy products like cream and ice cream contain less protein, calcium and vitamin D and more fat and sugar than yogurt and milk, and these products may actually be associated with lower bone mineral density. Though there are many ways men and women can improve their overall health, it’s important to consider the nutritional value of dairy when making any alterations to your diet.


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Make the gym work for you from the get-go M

any people aspire to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, which medical professionals have long advised is an essential element of a healthy life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, every week and some muscle-strengthening activities that focus on all the major muscle groups on two or more days per week. While adhering to such an exercise regimen might not appear that difficult on the surface, many men and women know just how difficult it can be to make the transition from a relatively inactive lifestyle to one in which exercise is a significant part of the daily routine. Much of that difficulty stems from the intimidation many people feel when visiting a gym. Walking into a gym for the first time can be similar to the first day of school, when a lack of familiarity with one’s surroundings inspired fear and anxiety. But there are ways individuals can make their first forays into the fitness club a success right from the start. • Familiarize yourself with the layout prior to your first workout. It’s easy to feel like an outsider when visiting a gym for the first time. Your fellow members already know their way around, and you might be hesitant to ask any of them for advice as to where certain equipment might be. To avoid a wasted workout opportunity spent wandering around the gym, ask a gym representative to show you around once you’re ready to start exercising. Such a tour was likely provided when you signed up for the gym, but the layout is easily forgotten between that visit and your first workout. Allow a trainer or another gym employee to show you the ropes right before your first workout so you don’t feel as though you’re lost in a vast sea of dumbbells and treadmills. • Accept the gym’s offer of a free training session. Many fitness clubs offer a free consultation with a personal trainer to new members. Accept this offer regardless of your fitness level or familiarity with the facility. The trainer can help you find your way around and tailor your workout to meet your goals. You may even find working with a personal trainer is something you want to do, and this can prove a great introduction to a service that many men and women find valuable and motivational. • Don’t worry about what your fellow members are doing and thinking. One of the biggest mistakes you can make at the

Enlisting a friend as a workout partner is one way to increase the chances your workout routine will be a success from the get-go.

Skip stretching before a workout Stretching before a workout may not be as beneficial as people once thought. Reserve stretching for your post-workout routine.

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any athletes have been told to stretch before starting a workout, as such a routine prepares the body for physical exertion. But new evidence suggests that stretching before a workout may do more harm than good.

onset of a new fitness regimen is paying too much attention to what your fellow members are doing. Just because someone working out next to you can bench press a few hundred pounds does not mean you should attempt to follow suit. It’s easy to feel as though your fellow gym members are watching you workout and judging your performance, but oftentimes nothing could be further from the truth. They’re likely too locked in on their own workout to notice what you’re doing, so don’t feel embarrassed if you feel like you’re not lifting enough weight or going easy on yourself on the treadmill. The more you workout, the more comfortable you’ll become and your performance will reflect that comfort level. What’s more, the more comfortable you become the less attention you will pay to your fellow members. • Find a time that works for you. When beginning a new workout routine, it helps to visit the gym at different times to find the time that best fits your schedule and makes you feel most comfortable. Beginners often prefer to avoid peak hours when fitness clubs tend to be most crowded. Many clubs are most busy during the post-work hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

During these hours, beginners may feel intimidated by other members who appear to be in tip-top shape or frustrated when having to share machines with other members. But some beginners might be motivated by a packed gym. To find the time that’s right for you and your schedule, visit the gym at various times of day over the first couple of weeks of your membership. Once you find a time that fits, commit to visiting the gym at that time several days per week. Establishing a routine is essential to making your exercise regimen a success. • Go with a friend. Enlisting a friend to workout with you on the buddy system is a great way to stay committed to a workout routine. A friend who works out with you can motivate you to go on those days when you really don’t want to, which is a significant hurdle to clear for beginners and veterans alike. When choosing a workout partner, make it known to each other that you both expect to be held accountable to your joint commitment. Beginning a new workout regimen can be exciting and intimidating. But beginners can employ several strategies to ensure their new lifestyle is a hit right off the bat.

Several studies now indicate that static stretching, or slowly moving muscles until they start to hurt and then holding the position, may impair strength and speed. One study published in the April 2013 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that those who stretch before lifting weights could find themselves feeling wobblier and weaker than expected. Another study at the University of Zagreb in Croatia reviewed 104 studies of people who practiced static stretching as a warm-up. Muscle strength was reduced by more than 5 percent in those who stretched. Another study examined men who did basic squats while lifting barbells. Men who stretched and those who didn’t were examined. Those who stretched lifted 8.3 percent less weight than those who skipped stretching. Many personal trainers now discourage extensive stretching before a workout, feeling that stretching post-workout provides the most benefit. A number of people have long confused stretching with warming up muscles, but static stretching is a different activity from actual muscle warmup, which generally involves low-impact movement of the body. There is no evidence that STRETCHING continued on page 10


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Fostering healthy eating habits in children

f kids had their way, pizza, chicken fingers and french fries would make up a significant portion of their diets. But parents know they must make kids’ culinary choices for them so youngsters get all of the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow up strong and healthy. Parents also tend to know how difficult it can be to convince kids to embrace healthy eating. Healthy eating habits can help kids live healthier lives and perform better in the classroom while setting them up for a lifetime of making the right choices at mealtime. Though encouraging kids to eat healthy may not always be easy, the following are a few tips for parents hoping to foster healthy eating habits in their children. • Stick to a schedule. Parents should establish a regular eating schedule, for both meals and snacks, so kids learn the importance of not skipping meals. Kids who learn to eat at regular intervals are more likely to continue doing so as they grow older. When kids stick to a meal schedule, they are less likely to overeat and they’re likely to have more energy

throughout the day, which should help them stay attentive at school and be more engaged in their extracurricular activities. • Involve kids when choosing the menu. Kids might be more excited about eating healthy when you involve them in choosing the menu. Invite them along on trips to the grocery store and allow them to choose one of their favorite foods for the meal in exchange for eating the healthy fare you have chosen. Parents may end up eating a lot of side dishes of macaroni and cheese, but their youngsters will also end up eating their vegetables. • Plan healthy desserts. Dessert is often considered an unhealthy indulgence, but there’s plenty of nutritious desserts that are so delicious kids likely will not realize they’re eating healthy. A dessert of fresh fruit and a small serving of yogurt can provide the same post-meal refreshment as ice cream or cake, but it does so with much fewer calories and a lot more nutrients and vitamins. What’s more, kids will come to look at dessert as a chance to eat fresh fruits instead of an opportunity to load up on ice cream or other, less healthy alternatives.

• Serve healthy portions. Sometimes it’s not just what is on the plate but how much is on the plate that can be healthy or unhealthy. When doling out portions for the family, create healthy portions so kids are not encouraged to overeat. Kids who grow up eating healthy portions are more likely to continue doing so into adulthood. Overeating is one of the culprits behind being overweight and obese, so kids who learn to control their portions are much less likely to overeat and gain excess weight. • Don’t reward kids with food. Some parents try to reward youngsters with food, allowing kids to indulge in unhealthy fare in acknowledgement of a good report card or something else kids should be proud of. But using food as a reward is an unhealthy eating habit that can lead to problems down the road as kids become adults responsible for their own eating habits.

• Set a positive example. Kids are more likely to eat healthy when mom and dad are healthy eaters. If your first choice at snack time is to reach for a bag of potato chips, then don’t be surprised when your kids opt for chips over healthier fare like a piece of fruit. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a tough sell to youngsters when it comes to their eating habits, so parents should set a positive example for their kids by ensuring their own diets are healthy.


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7 myths

SHRETCHING from page 8

about body fat

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ody fat is often considered the enemy for those looking to get fit. People will try many types of diets and exercise in an effort to rid their bodies of excess fat, and such regimens produce varying degrees of success. Part of what makes fat so confounding is the misconceptions surrounding this natural component of anatomy. By separating the myths from the facts, men and women might find their efforts to banish body fat that much more successful.

stretching before a workout makes muscles more limber or reduces the risk of injury during a workout. Some experts liken stretching muscles prior to working out to overstretching a rubber band. The muscles may get limp and overworked prematurely and then not be able to perform to peak when power intensity is needed. Others argue that when

people engage in stretching, the muscles are actually tightening, rather than relaxing, which may make athletes more prone to injury. Stretching improves flexibility and range of movement. But some fitness experts suggest stretching be reserved for times when exercise will not immediately follow, such as after a workout has been completed.

Myth #1: Body fat is only under the surface of the skin. While body fat near the surface of the skin, which is known as subcutaneous fat, may be most noticeable, body fat is actually accumulated throughout the body. Organs can accumulate fat, and this internal fat, known as visceral fat, can wrap around the heart and marble muscle. According to Dr. David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, visceral fat can be toxic and unhealthy. When people begin to exercise, they burn away this visceral fat and the results are often noticeable shortly after an exercise regimen begins. Myth #2: Muscle turns to fat without exercise. Muscle and fat are two separate entities, and one cannot become the other. People will gain weight after they stop exercising because fat will begin to accumulate more readily because it isn’t being burned. Fat may mask muscles that were once there and are no longer as pronounced. However, the muscles will not turn to fat. Upon returning to regular exercise, a person can regain his or her physique. Myth #3: Body fat develops from eating fatty foods. Fat in food will not necessarily turn to fat on the body. That piece of bacon will no more turn into a spare tire around your midsection than would a banana. Fat is formed from excess calories. When the body takes in more calories than it uses for energy, that excess is stored as fat reserves. Whether calories come from a lean protein or fatty gristle, if the calories are all used up they will not turn into fat. Myth #4: Starving oneself will burn fat. Depriving the body of calories may initially force it to burn body fat stores. However, if the calorie restriction is so marked, the body may actually go into “starvation mode,” where it breaks down fats more slowly. Also, when food is reintroduced, the body may store more fat in anticipation of

future deprivation. This can cause a person to gain more weight and body fat than if he or she had just adhered to a moderate diet all along. Myth #5: A person can lose body fat from just one area. There are a number of exercises purported to burn fat from a specific area of the body. For example, doing hundreds of crunches will banish belly fat. However, fat will not diminish in just one spot from targeted exercise. The body burns fat evenly so that one portion is not depleted more than another, resulting in an area of the body that is not naturally insulated by fat. Therefore, a diet and exercise plan will produce gradual shedding of body fat all over the body. Yet, the appearance of diminished fat may be visible in particular areas more so than others. Myth #6: Fat modulates body temperature. Scientists used to believe that body fat was instrumental in regulating body temperature. New information suggests that it is actually muscle that helps regulate body temperature, although it is not entirely understood why. According to a report published in Nature Medicine, muscle protein called scarlopin is believed to help regulate body temperature. Muscle contractions also help to generate heat. Myth #7: Fat weighs less than muscle. Muscle and fat weigh the same. A pound of bricks will weigh the same as a pound of cotton. Muscle is more dense than fat, so if a person is exercising and building muscle while shedding fat, he or she may not notice a big change in weight. Body fat is often shrouded in mystery, but understanding the science behind body fat can make shedding it that much easier.


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Understanding and fighting hypertension

go hand-in-hand

study published in the journal Neurology found that people with high blood pressure were significantly less likely to have headaches than those with healthy pressure readings. Nosebleeds have also been linked to high blood pressure, but one study found that 83 percent of patients treated for high blood pressure did not suffer from nosebleeds. Debunking such myths is important, as it further emphasizes the need to receive routine blood pressure readings as the only reliable means for men, women and children to determine if they have high, low or healthy blood pressure. Anyone experiencing frequent headaches or nosebleeds should consult a physician but should not assume such occurrences are a byproduct of high blood pressure. Can certain foods help reduce high blood pressure? One rumor concerning HBP actually has some merit. A heart-healthy diet that includes the following foods can help men, women and children manage their blood pressure and reduce HBP if necessary: • Blueberries: Blueberries contain an-

H

ypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, affects millions of people across the globe. According to the American Heart Association, more than 76 million adults in the United States alone have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. But even children and teens can suffer from hypertension, making it a formidable but largely preventable foe. Understanding high blood pressure, or HBP, may encourage adults and children alike to take steps to maintain a healthy blood pressure, which can reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. What is HBP? HBP is often associated with men and women who are considered to be constantly on edge, nervous or hyperactive. But even laid back men, women and children can suffer from HBP. As a person’s heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through the body’s arteries and veins. Those arteries are made of muscle and a semi-flexible tissue that stretches when the blood is pumped through them. The more forcefully that blood is pumped, the more that flexible tissue is stretched. When the tissue is stretched too much, a person is at

Routine blood pressure screenings are often the only way men and women can learn if they are suffering from high blood pressure. an increased risk of suffering from a host of problems, including blood clots, plaque buildup that can lead to heart attack and stroke, and tissue and organ damage from arteries that have narrowed or become blocked. Are there symptoms of HBP? The AHA notes that HBP is typically devoid of symptoms. So people suffering from HBP may not know it if they have not routinely had their blood pressure checked. Over the years many myths have prevailed regarding HBP. Such myths can be dangerous, giving people a false sense of security regarding their blood pressure. For example, in the early 1900s it was assumed that people with high blood pressure experienced more frequent headaches than those with healthy blood pressure. However, a

thocyanin, a natural compound that a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found can protect the body against HBP. • Whole grain cereal: A Harvard University study found that whole grain cereals that are high in fiber can reduce a person’s risk of developing HBP. • Beet juice: A study from British researchers published by the AHA in its journal Hypertension found that a glass of beet juice can lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. • Low-fat dairy products: A 2008 study that examined nearly 30,000 women at an average age of 54 found that those who consumed the most low-fat dairy products, including skim or low-fat milk, were significantly less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who consumed dairy products that were high in fat. HBP is a common problem that affects millions of people of all ages across the globe. There are several ways men, women and children can reduce their risk of HBP and lower their blood pressure if it’s already high.


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