Could eating yoghurt help to lower high blood pressure?


Researchers have found that eating yoghurt appears to help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients, although not in those without this condition. — AFP

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects over a billion people worldwide.

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 (Unisa) in Australia and the University of Maine in the United States shows that a higher intake of yoghurt is associated with lower blood pressure in those who have hypertension.

The study, published last month (November 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 (yoghurt) were associated with lower blood pressure,” said Unisa researcher Dr Alexandra Wade in a news release.

“And for those who consumed (yoghurt) regularly, the results were even stronger, with blood pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume (yoghurt).”

The study was observational, meaning that yoghurt is not guaranteed to lower blood pressure.

But the researchers say their “findings suggest that the relationship between yoghurt consumption and blood pressure is beneficial for individuals with hypertension”.

Hypertension is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which themselves are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, including from heart attacks and strokes.

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

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

The 2018 study did not discover if yoghurt was beneficial specifically for people with hypertension, or if it offered a broad benefit to people overall, but this newer study sheds some light on that question.

According to its findings, yoghurt helped people who already had hypertension lower their readings, but there was no evidence of an association between yoghurt consumption and lower blood pressure in those who did not have hypertension.

“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,” Dr Wade said.

“Yoghurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins, which lowers blood pressure.”

The study also found that individuals who eat more yoghurt 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 yoghurt, or if the yoghurt 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 yoghurt consumption in hypertensive individuals and highlight the need to target at-risk individuals in future intervention studies,” the report concluded. – By Alison Cutler/The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service

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