Tag - Cardiovascular health
How to preserve cardiovascular health?
The Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) concern all diseases related to the heart and blood vessels: heart attacks, angina, strokes, hypertension, etc.
Cardiovascular risks may be evaluated through many parameters such as body weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting plasma lipids, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein (CRP), for example.
In the EU, 49 million people are living with a cardiovascular disease (CVD). It remains a major cause for concern, particularly because of the escalating rates of overweight and diabetes.
However, CVD are strongly linked to the way of life and many individual initiatives may help prevent a good cardiovascular health:
- Avoid smoking,
- Exercise every day (1)
- Maintain a balanced weight and low abdominal adiposity,
- Eat healthy diet.
Which foods to prevent heart and cardiovascular diseases?
Very large epidemiological studies have shown that individuals who follow a healthy dietary pattern may have a lower blood pressure and decreased cardiovascular risks.
This healthy diet is characterized by a high consumption of:
- fruits and vegetables,
- nuts and whole grains,
- olive oil,
- yogurt and dairy foods (2).
Can I eat dairy products on a cardiac diet?
Despite their fat content, milk and dairy products are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals:
- Calcium, potassium and magnesium are linked to a reduced risk of stroke, (3)
- Benefits may also come from fat-soluble vitamins produced from dairy fats during fermentation.
Evidences suggest that dairy consumption does not raise CVD risks. A meta-analysis of prospective studies show that drinking a lot of milk does not increase the relative risk of coronary heart disease compared with low milk consumption. Other meta-analysis have shown no increase in CVD risks and a fall in risk of stroke per unit increase in milk and cheese consumption (4).
What about saturated fats?
Dietary guidelines targeting CVD risks have tended to restrict the global intake of saturated fats because of their association with raised blood cholesterol. Some proposals have advised restricting dairy foods, as they are major sources of saturated fats (5).
However, recent studies indicate that such approaches would be simplistic. Indeed, dietary guidelines recommending low-fat dairy products in stroke prevention have been called into question by the findings of a large-scale Danish study (6). It found that substituting whole-fat fermented milk in place of other dairy types – including low-fat milk – is associated with a reduced risk of ischaemic stroke (7).
Furthermore, milk and dairy products are rich in micronutrients and proteins, such as whey protein, which may lower blood pressure (8). Research has also suggest that dairy product consumption does not increase arterial stiffness, an important predictor of CVD events.
Do yogurt and fermentation bring specific benefits for cardiovascular health?
Yogurt and fermented dairy products are often linked with gut health. However, they also appear to benefit cardiometabolic health, which encompasses cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Higher consumption of cheese, yogurt and kefir is linked with lower levels of LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure, together with a lower risk of T2D, stroke and coronary heart disease (9).
How fermented foods influence risk factors for CVD is yet to be uncovered. However, it is thought that probiotics and vitamin K2, which are both present in fermented dairy foods, may play a part. The fermentation process may also have a role as it leads to changes in the structure of fats and proteins.
The fermentation process influence also the dairy fat composition and increase the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid which, evidence suggests, may have several anti-atherosclerotic benefits including changes in body fat, lipid profile and blood pressure (10).
Yogurts in particular, with their diverse assortment of different bioactive, nutrient-rich compounds, especially when consumed with fruit, have been linked with a reduced risk of CVD, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, like high blood pressure (11) or high blood glucose (12).
It is also likely that the calcium, protein, bioactive nutrients and live cultures contained in yogurt have beneficial effects Bioactive peptides released during yogurt fermentation have been shown to have cardio-metabolic health properties (12).
A study shows that higher consumption of yogurt among the men and women in two cohorts of people with hypertension is associated with a lower risk of CVD as shown by their rates of heart attack and stroke (2).
CVD risk reduction is even greater when yogurt is part of a global healthy diet.