Dietary choices play a significant role in treating hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to a recent study published in the International Dairy Journal, yogurt may have special advantages. In fact, researchers discovered that people who already have hypertension benefit the most from it.
Researchers examined the frequency of cardiovascular illness and cognitive decline that may be connected to lifestyle choices in 915 hypertensive participants in a long-term study on aging. They discovered that eating yogurt, ideally every day, is connected with reduced overall blood pressure. Participants submitted information on health statistics like cholesterol, glucose levels, and blood pressure, as well as food monitoring diaries, for around 40 years. This result held true for people who already had hypertension in particular.
According to the study's lead author, Alexandra Wade, PhD, a specialist in nutrition and cognition at the University of South Australia, even tiny doses seem to have cognitive impact, provided they are ingested frequently rather than infrequently.
"Just having yogurt on its own is associated with lower blood pressure, and for those who consumed yogurt often, the results were even stronger," she says, adding that blood pressure readings for the yogurt eaters were nearly seven points lower than those who did not have the food at all.
Finding more ways to globally influence blood pressure was a key component of the study. According to Dr. Wade, they were particularly interested in modifications that would be accessible and affordable. A paper published in Nature Reviews Nephrology in February 2020 estimates that 31% of adults worldwide, or around 1.39 billion individuals, suffer with hypertension. In high-income countries, prevalence is still at about 28% of adults, while being higher in low- and middle-income countries.
No matter where you live, lifestyle risk factors are the same everywhere. High sodium intake, low potassium intake, obesity, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and poor diet are among the risk factors mentioned by researchers. The authors of that report also stated that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature death globally. That means if hypertension is adequately treated, it has a cascading impact that greatly lowers the risks associated with chronic illness.
According to Dr. Wade, one reason yogurt in particular seemed to have such a positive impact on blood pressure is probably because dairy products include a variety of minerals. These consist of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The American Heart Association, for instance, mentions that diets high in potassium help mitigate the effects of salt. These meals, which also include avocados, dark leafy greens like spinach, mushrooms, melons, and potatoes, increase the amount of sodium expelled through the urinary system. Milk and yogurt are also on that list, with yogurt standing out due to its additional qualities, according to Dr. Wade.
"Yogurt includes these minerals and also contains beneficial bacteria that promote the release of certain proteins that have been associated with lower blood pressure," she says.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Cardiology, sugar's role in the body's fat distribution may be part of the mechanism causing this increase in belly fat, commonly known as abdominal adiposity. Diabetes and heart disease risk are both increased when there is fat in that location.
"Consumption of added sugar creates a biological environment in which excess sugar is converted into fatty acids, and those get stored as triglycerides and lipids, usually in the abdomen," says Lyn Steffen, PhD, director of public health nutrition at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Yogurt will naturally have some amount of sugar because it is a dairy product, but reading labels to discover varieties that are unsweetened and have the least amount of sugar is helpful. For overall heart health, it's a good idea to keep sugar under control.
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