(dailyRx News) Yogurt has long been favored as part of a healthy diet or in conjunction with weight loss plans. However, it may also offer a hidden benefit.
Individuals who eat more yogurt without increasing their calorie intake may have lower blood pressure, a recent study found.
Huifen Wang, PhD, of Tufts University in Boston, found that long-term yogurt eaters were less likely to develop hypertension and had a tendency to have lower systolic blood pressure compared to those who don't eat yogurt regularly.
Systolic blood pressure, shown as the top number in a blood pressure reading, measures the force of blood in the arteries as the heart beats.
During the 15-year study, researchers followed 2,197 adults without hypertension who participated in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort beginning in 1998. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires regarding their yogurt consumption three times during the study period.
At the beginning of the study, about 44 percent of individuals ate yogurt less often than once a month. Of the participants, 913 developed hypertension during the study.
Investigators determined that individuals were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure if at least 2 percent of their daily calories came from yogurt.
This equals about one six-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt every three days. Systolic blood pressure of yogurt eaters also increased less than those who didn't eat yogurt over the course of the study.
Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist with Legacy Heart Center and co-director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Institute at the Baylor Heart Hospital,said that the link is certainly plausible.
"Low-fat dairy products have been associated with a lower risk for high blood pressure," Dr. Samaan said. "This may have something to do with the fact that yogurt is rich in calcium, since we know that dietary (but not supplemental) calcium is good for our arterial health."
Dr. Samaan, also author of "Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: How to Stop Heart Disease Before or After It Starts, said she encourages her own patients to choose unsweetened yogurt and add their own flavorings since many popular brands of yogurt have a high sugar content.
The study received funding from the Framingham Heart Study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and a research grant from Dannon Company, Inc., which produces yogurt.
The study has not yet been published, but was recently presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions.