Researchers have found that eating two or more servings of yoghurt could help lower the risk of heart disease in men and women with high blood pressure by around 20 per cent.
High blood pressure is a major cause of cardiovascular health problems such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance that affects about one billion people worldwide.
For the study, the researchers looked at data from more than 55,000 women and 18,000 men who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
Analysis of the data showed that higher intake of yoghurt is related to lower heart disease risks in both men and women with high blood pressure.
Yoghurt is a dairy product made by fermenting milk with a yoghurt culture. It provides protein and calcium, and it may boost healthy gut bacteria.
Its health benefits range from protecting against osteoporosis to relieving irritable bowel disease and aiding digestion, but these depend on the type of yoghurt consumed. Nonetheless, added sugar and processing can make some yogurt products unhealthy.
Higher intakes of yoghurt were associated with a 30 per cent reduction in risk of myocardial infarction among the Nurses’ Health Study women and a 19 per cent reduction in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
There were 3,300 and 2,148 total cardiovascular disease cases (myocardial infarction, stroke, and revascularization) in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
In both groups, they said participants consuming more than two servings a week of yoghurt had about 20 per cent lower risks of major coronary heart disease or stroke during the follow-up period.
Besides, a higher yoghurt intake in combination with an overall heart-healthy diet was linked with greater reductions in cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women, they added.
According to them, the results provide an important new evidence that yoghurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The researchers also assessed the correlation between reduced risks of heart disease and higher DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) scores. The DASH diet encourages people to eat foods that are rich in nutrients and can help them lower their blood pressure.
They concluded that a combination of increased yoghurt intake and a higher DASH score resulted in the lowest risk of developing heart disease.
Previously, researchers had also said that having yoghurt as part of a healthy diet has been associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The research, according to the study published in open access journal BMC Medicine, found that consumption of one 28g serving of yoghurt per day was associated with an 18 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, some other researchers at the University of Cambridge had suggested that coconut oil might actually lower the risk of heart disease and stroke when consumed every day for just four weeks.
They recruited 94 volunteers between the ages of 50 and 75, none of whom had a history of heart disease or diabetes. They were divided into three groups and each was asked to consume 50 grammes (roughly three tablespoons) of either coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter every day for four weeks.
Scientists wanted to see how eating these fats regularly would affect the volunteers’ cholesterol levels – and the results were surprising.
While the butter consumers saw an average rise of 10 per cent in their levels of LDL cholesterol, those consuming olive oil saw a slight reduction in LDL levels and a five per cent rise in HDL cholesterol levels because it boosts its protective properties.
Given that those who ate coconut oil saw the biggest rise in HDL levels with an average of 15 per cent, the researchers believe that olive oil could, after all, lower the likelihood of developing heart disease or stroke.