Yogurt Consumption Linked To Lower Blood Pressure
September 20, 2012

Yogurt Consumption Linked To Lower Blood Pressure

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Several studies have shown links between lower blood pressure and certain foods, including kiwi, chocolate and even purple potatoes. Now you can add sesame/rice bran oil and yogurt to that list. Two new studies have found that these new foods, when added to your diet, may lower blood pressure and boost heart health.

In the first study, involving 300 people with high blood pressure, researchers showed that a sesame and rice bran oil blend reduced blood pressure in conjunction with a common medication. While the blend used in the study, called Vivo, is not yet commercially available, each type is available commercially on their own.

Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, a Bickford Green and Gold professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington, and an American Heart Association (AHA) spokeswoman, noted that similar results may possibly be found in other heart-healthy fats--including olive oil, avocado, nut butters, fatty fish and flaxseed.

In the second study, researchers, led by Huifen Wang, PhD, of Tufts University in Boston, looked at the diets of some 2,000 volunteers and found that those who regularly consumed a small amount of yogurt were less likely to develop high blood pressure. Specifically, those who took two percent of their calories from yogurt were 31 percent less likely to develop HBP over a 15-year period, than those who did not have the yogurt in their diet.

“Taken together, the two studies are very supportive of the DASH eating plan,” said Johnson.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is loaded with fruits and vegetables, and is low in saturated fat and salt.

“DASH recommends two or three servings of heart-healthy fats a day, and that is where sesame and rice oil fit in,” she said. DASH also calls for two to three servings a day of fat-free or low-fat dairy products, including yogurt.

She noted that these new studies “strengthen what we already know about diet and blood pressure.”

The findings are very much in line with what is recommended by many dietitians, said Despina Hyde, RD, a registered dietitian at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

“Yogurt is a good source of calcium, and many studies have shown that calcium can help keep blood pressure levels under control,” she told WebMD℠s Denise Mann.

But this is only true for low-fat yogurt, Hyde warned. Full-fat yogurt and whole milk contain more saturated fat, which can raise levels of low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol).

Rick Miller, a member of the British Dietetic Association, said calcium has an abundance of effects on the human body, including “a hypo-tensive effect, meaning it helps to lower blood pressure.”

“Calcium is needed in muscle tissue, including blood vessel walls, and if there isn´t enough, they are not going to operate properly. In effect the calcium helps keep vessels supple,” he explained to Crystal Phend of MedPage Today.

Calcium from dairy products like yogurt is good for this, he noted. However, taking too much calcium in pill form could have a negative effect, he cautioned. Previous studies have shown that it can be deposited on artery walls and lead to hardening.

Professor Gareth Beevers, a trustee of the Blood Pressure Association, said while studies show yogurt has a “small effect” on lowering blood pressure, it should not be considered as a way of counteracting it in people who already have hypertension.

The findings of the new studies were presented to the American Heart Association on Wednesday during a scheduled meeting.