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Articles January 2013 Issue

Eating Yogurt Linked to Lower Risk of High Blood Pressure

Eating yogurt—even just a couple of times a week—might substantially reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. New Tufts research reports that people who consumed least 2% of their daily calories from yogurt were 31% less likely to develop hypertension over a 14-year followup period. The findings support expert recommendations to consume two or three daily servings of low-fat dairy products, including yogurt, to combat high blood pressure.

"Yogurt is a nutrient-dense, low-fat dairy product," says Huifen Wang, PhD, a postdoctoral associate at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. Wang and colleagues presented their findings at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research meeting. “Higher yogurt intake, as part of a healthy diet pattern, may be beneficial for blood pressure control and hypertension prevention."

Wang and colleagues looked at data on 2,197 adults in the long-running Framingham Heart Study’s offspring cohort, initially free of hypertension. Over 14 years, 913 participants developed high blood pressure. Those who ate the most yogurt—totaling more than 2% of their daily calories (equal to at least one six-ounce cup serving of yogurt every three days)—were significantly less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure (the top number) rose less among yogurt eaters, too. When people who began taking medications for high blood pressure were excluded from the data, that apparent benefit from yogurt was even stronger.

SAYING YES TO YOGURT. If you’re considering adding more yogurt to your diet, Wang suggests substituting it for other, less healthy snacks and desserts rather than simply eating extra calories. Pick low-fat or fat-free yogurt and keep an eye on added sugars.

Yogurt has other health benefits, too. It’s a good source of protein and calcium. (Unlike milk, however, not all yogurt is fortified with calcium’s bone-building partner, vitamin D; check the label.) Yogurt with “live” bacteria may have probiotic digestive benefits.

For details on what constitutes a "serving" of yogurt and other dairy products, see www.choosemyplate. gov/food-groups/dairy.html#.

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