New Study: Yogurt may help lower cardiovascular disease risk in adults with high blood pressure

February is heart health month – a time when people are looking for simple ways to improve their heart health. The results of a new study, along with the other existing evidence, illustrate the importance of eating yogurt and dairy foods as part of a heart healthy eating pattern all year long.

As you may know, high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). But a new study suggests that, for adults with high blood pressure, a food that may have heart health benefits can be found right in the aisles of your grocery store. Hint: It’s yogurt. In fact, the study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension by Buendia, et al., showed eating yogurt regularly (two cups/week) was associated with a lower risk for developing CVD in adults with high blood pressure.

Why are the results of this study important? This is the first prospective study to examine the relationship between yogurt consumption and CVD in people with high blood pressure. Nearly 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, which increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Since heart disease and stroke continue to be two of the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States, it is important to identify simple changes that can help reduce the risk of these conditions. In this case, that could mean eating two cups or more of yogurt a week.

In the study, data from more than 55,000 females in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and 18,000 males in Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) was analyzed to evaluate the association between eating yogurt and CVD risk among adults with high blood pressure. The results showed eating at least two cups of yogurt per week was associated with a 30 percent and 19 percent reduction in risk of having a heart attack among women and men, respectively. Participants who ate one cup or more of yogurt per week also had an approximately 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease or stroke during the follow-up period. Finally, regular yogurt eaters with higher Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet scores had 16 percent and 30 percent CVD risk reductions in the two cohorts, respectively.

The results of this study add to the body of research supporting a relationship between yogurt, both alone and in combination with the DASH eating pattern, and cardiovascular health. The DASH diet is unique in its simplicity – it doesn’t require any special foods and it focuses on increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. In fact, in 2018 it was ranked one of the best overall dietfor the eighth year in a row by U.S. News. One of the key food groups in this pattern is dairy, which has been linked with reduced risk of high blood pressure.