A new study that followed more than 2,000 participants over 15 years has found that eating more yogurt may help lower your risk of high blood pressure.
The study, by Huifen Wang, PhD, of Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues, was presented on September 19, 2012, at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions in Washington D.C.
The new research found that “long-term yogurt-eaters were less likely to develop high blood pressure and on average had lower systolic blood pressure than those who didn’t eat yogurt,” the American Heart Association (AHA) reported in a news release issued September 19, 2012.
“Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading. It measures the force of blood against the walls of your arteries when your heart is beating,” the AHA explained in its release.
The Study; Methodology
The researchers analyzed data from 2,197 adult participants in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, which followed the participants over a 15-year period. The participants included in the study did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study.
During the 15-year study period, the participants were administered dietary questionnaires, which measured among other things their yogurt consumption, at three intervals over the study period. Their blood pressure and other health indicators were also measured during the follow-up period.
Over the 15-year study period, blood pressure readings rose, and 913 of the participants developed high blood pressure.
The researchers used statistical analysis to analyze the extent of association, if any, between eating yogurt and incidence of high blood pressure.
The researchers found that “Study participants were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure if at least 2 percent of their daily calories came from yogurt, which would be like eating at least one six-ounce cup of low-fat yogurt every three days,” the American Heart Association (AHA) reported in its news release.
“In addition, their systolic blood pressure increased less than that of people who didn’t eat yogurt,” the AHA said.
The findings held after adjustments for demographic and lifestyle factors, as well as for cholesterol-lowering medication use.
In fact, the link between yogurt-eating and lower systolic change actually was stronger when individuals on antihypertensive medication were excluded from the analysis, the researchers found.
The findings remained significant also after adjustment for Body Mass Index (BMI) and change in BMI. BMI is a measure of body weight relative to height, and provides an indicator of whether one’s weight is normal, underweight, overweight or obese.
“Higher yogurt intake, as part of a healthy diet pattern, may be beneficial for blood pressure control and hypertension prevention,” the authors concluded.
“Yogurt is a nutrient-dense, low-fat dairy product,” the research team noted. The finding “reinforces the known role of low-fat dairy products in reducing blood pressure,” Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, chair of the American Heart Association nutrition committee, told MedPage Today.
The American Heart Association supports the DASH diet recommendations, which include two to three servings of low-fat dairy per day.
“I would encourage my patients to choose fat-free or low-fat yogurt and to watch the amount of added sugars that are in the yogurt to keep the calories down,” Dr. Johnson said.
However, she cautioned, “When we talk about adding heart healthy foods we always want to think about what will they replace in the diet, not necessarily adding them on top of your existing diet, in order to maintain a healthy weight.”
According to the AHA’s news release, the new study was funded by the Framingham Heart Study of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health and by a research grant from the Dannon Company, Inc.
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- Healthy Living: Stories of Inspiring Seniors.
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