A Yogurt a Day Keeps Heart Disease at Bay
Hypertension, also known as chronic high blood pressure, is one of the top risk factors for developing heart disease. Currently, hypertension affects one in three adults in the U.S. Existing strategies for lowering blood pressure include limiting sodium intake and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. With heart disease as the number one cause of death in the U.S., researchers are always looking for additional dietary interventions to improve the heart health of Americans.
Several studies have examined the effects of dairy, but there are limited studies on the impact of specific items within the dairy food group. However, a recent study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that yogurt consumption may independently impact cardiovascular disease risk. Hypertensive females consuming two or more servings of yogurt per week were found to have a 17 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, while males consuming two or more servings per week had a 21 percent lower risk of developing heart disease. This was in comparison to participants consuming less than one serving of yogurt per month.
One potential mechanism of the protective effects of yogurt is its ability to help prevent plaque buildup. A past study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consumed over 100 grams of yogurt per day had less plaque buildup on the walls of their carotid arteries. The study also included other types of dairy products, which were not observed to have the same effect.
Bottom Line: While yogurt consumption may be beneficial to health, consumers must choose wisely. There is an entire section of the grocery store dedicated to yogurt, and many options are packed with added sugars. The best way to avoid added sugars is to choose plain Greek yogurt. You can add your own fruit for sweetness and extra fiber. Also, keep in mind that yogurt consumption was shown to be most beneficial in the context of an otherwise healthy diet.
Written by: Mary Kavanaugh, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern