Consuming five or more servings of yogurt a week reduces risk for high blood pressure by 20 percent in women, according to research recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions.
Conducted at Boston University School of Medicine, this study examined the long-term effects of yogurt consumption on blood pressure in middle-aged adults. Current U.S. dietary guidelines recommend low-fat dairy products as part of a healthy diet. Some studies have linked yogurt to better heart health and lower blood pressure.
To learn more, researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Both studies have followed hundreds of thousands of U.S. health professionals, regularly collecting information on participants’ diet and health. The Nurses’ Health Study followed mostly women between 25–55 years old, while the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study included mostly men between 40–75 years of age.
With 18–30 years of follow-up on study participants, researchers documented more than 74,000 new cases of high blood pressure. After analysis, investigators found that women who ate five or more servings of yogurt a week had 20 percent lower risk for high blood pressure than women consuming one yogurt a month. There was no significant association between yogurt consumption and high blood pressure in men, although this may be explained by overall low yogurt consumption in men.
Interestingly, researchers also found that yogurt had an even bigger impact on adults who already had a well-balanced diet. Among men and women with a healthy overall diet, consuming five or more servings of yogurt a week reduced risk of developing high blood pressure by 31 percent compared to those consuming just one yogurt a week. Authors add that milk and cheese had beneficial effects on blood pressure, although not as strongly as yogurt.
“Our study shows that daily intake of dairy products, particularly yogurt, lowers the risk for developing high blood pressure,” said Justin Buendia, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University School of Medicine. High blood pressure currently affects 1 in 3 U.S. adults and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
“No one food is a magic bullet,” Buendia explains, “But adding yogurt to an otherwise healthy diet seems to help reduce the long-term risk of high blood pressure in women.” With further research, authors hope to explore differences in dairy consumption among men and women, and whether specific types of yogurt are more beneficial than others when it comes to heart health.