Yogurt may help combat high blood pressure, new study finds


A new study shows that yogurt could help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, a condition almost half Americans have.

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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans. Now, a new study finds that there may be an easy way to help combat the condition — with a simple snack in your fridge.

A recent study from researchers at the University of South Australia and the University of Maine shows that a higher intake of yogurt is associated with lower blood pressure with those who have hypertension.

The study, published Nov. 2021 in the International Dairy Journal, examined the self-reported food consumption and blood pressure levels of 915 community-dwelling adults, collected as a part of the Maine–Syracuse Longitudinal Study.

“This study showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of (yogurt) were associated with lower blood pressure,” Dr. Alexandra Wade, a researcher on the study from University of South Australia, said in a news release. “And for those who consumed (yogurt) regularly, the results were even stronger, with blood pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume (yogurt).”

The study was observational, meaning yogurt is not guaranteed to lower blood pressure, although researchers say their “findings suggest that the relationship between yogurt consumption and blood pressure is beneficial for individuals with hypertension.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of Americans — 116 million — have high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Only 24% have their condition under control. CVDs are the leading cause of mortality and disability worldwide, including heart attacks and strokes.

But researchers say yogurt could play a role in changing that.

The study referred to separate research from 2018 that found people with high blood pressure who ate two or more servings of yogurt per week experienced 17-21% lower risk of developing CVD than those who ate fewer than one serving per month.

The study from 2018 did not discover if yogurt was beneficial specifically for people with high blood pressure, or if it offered a broad benefit to people overall, but the study from the University of South Australia and the University of Maine lends some light on that question.

According to findings in the study, yogurt helped people who already had high blood pressure lower their readings, but it did not find evidence of an association between yogurt consumption and people who did not have hypertension in lowering blood pressure.

Regardless, yogurt consumption could play a role in helping those dealing with high blood pressure, researchers said.

“High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so it’s important that we continue to find ways to reduce and regulate it,” Wade said. “Yogurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins which lowers blood pressure.”

The CDC reports that high blood pressure puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke, and was a primary or contributing cause of more than half a million deaths alone in 2019.

Certain individuals are more prone to developing hypertension, too, according to the CDC. A greater percentage of men (50%) have high blood pressure when compared to women (44%).

It’s also more common among non-Hispanic Black adults than non-Hispanic White adults, non-Hispanic Asian adults or Hispanic adults.

The recent study found that individuals who eat more yogurt regularly tend to be younger, female and have more years of education. Another limitation in the study, researchers note, is that respondents did not specify what they considered a serving size of yogurt — or if the yogurt was high in fat or sugar.

Still, researchers said the study “offers valuable insight” into how dietary changes can potentially improve one’s health.

“These findings provide further support for the potential cardiovascular benefits of yogurt consumption in hypertensive individuals and highlight the need to target at-risk individuals in future intervention studies,” the report concluded.

This story was originally published December 9, 2021 4:12 PM.

Alison Cutler is a National Real Time Reporter for the Southeast at McClatchy. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and previously worked for The News Leader in Staunton, VA, a branch of USAToday.

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