Consuming at least 2 servings of yogurt every week, especially as part of a healthy diet, is associated with a reduced risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) among people with high blood pressure, this large-scale study reveals.
High blood pressure, well-recognised as a CVD risk factor, affects about 1 billion people worldwide. Beneficial effects of low-fat dairy consumption on the risk of high blood pressure and CVD have been shown by previous studies, including the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial. In DASH, a diet including fruit and vegetables and low-fat dairy was linked to a greater blood pressure lowering effect than the standard Western diet or a diet including fruit and vegetables without the dairy products.
Although studies have pointed to a potential benefit of consuming fermented dairy products such as yogurt for people with hypertension, there are few large-scale studies of the specific health effects of yogurt rather than dairy products as a whole.
The authors of this study investigated a possible independent link between yogurt and CVD risk among people with hypertension. They looked at data from adults with high blood pressure who were taking part in two long-term US cohort studies – 55,898 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 18,232 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
Participants were asked about their yogurt consumption in food frequency questionnaires and these were assessed in relation to their CVD outcomes. The findings were adjusted for CVD risk factors, medications and diet.
Yogurt intake was associated with reduced CVD risk
Results revealed that higher consumption of yogurt among the men and women in these two cohorts of people with hypertension was associated with a lower risk of CVD as shown by their rates of heart attack and stroke. Among those who ate at least 2 servings of yogurt per week, the women had a 17% lower CVD risk and the men had a 21% lower risk compared with those who ate less than one serving of yogurt per month.
The results were particularly striking for myocardial infarction (MI). The higher intake of yogurt was associated with a 30% reduced risk of MI in the women’s cohort and 19% reduced risk in the men’s cohort. It was a weaker association for stroke.
In the women only, higher yogurt intake was also associated with a reduced need for revascularisation procedures, such as a coronary artery bypass graft.Among those who ate at least 2 servings of yogurt per week, the women had a 17% lower CVD risk and the men had a 21% lower risk compared with those who ate less than one serving of yogurt per month. Click To Tweet
CVD risk reduction was even greater when yogurt was part of a healthy diet
The authors also looked at whether their results differed according to whether the regular yogurt-consumers closely followed a heart-healthy diet. They found the association between higher yogurt consumption and reduced CVD risk was even stronger overall among those who had higher DASH diet scores, with a CVD risk reduction of 16% among the women and 30% among the men.
How might this association happen?
Previous studies have suggested that yogurt intake may be associated with reduced CVD risk by improving blood pressure control in people with hypertension. This might be achieved by blocking an enzyme – angiotensin-converting enzyme – an effect which may cause blood vessels to relax and widen, so reducing blood pressure
The authors concluded that their findings support the inclusion of yogurt into a heart-healthy diet to help prevent CVD in people with hypertension.
Find out more: read the original article.