Yoghurt intake associated with lowered risk of cardiovascular disease

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Greek yogurt in blue bowl on rustic wooden table top view.A large study from Boston University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard University, suggests that higher yoghurt intake is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.

High blood pressure is a major cardiovascular disease risk factor. Clinical trials have previously demonstrated beneficial effects of dairy consumption on cardiovascular health. Yogurt may independently be related to cardiovascular disease risk. High blood pressure affects about 1bn people worldwide but may also be a major cause of cardiovascular health problems. Higher dairy consumption has been associated with beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease-related comorbidities such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.

For the current analyses, participants included over 55,000 women (ages 30-55) with high blood pressure from the Nurses’ Health Study and 18,000 men (ages 40-75) who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

In the Nurses’ Health Study, participants were asked to complete a mailed 61-item questionnaire in 1980 to report usual dietary intake in the preceding year. Participants subsequently reported any interim physician-diagnosed events including myocardial infarction, stroke, and revascularisation. Permission was requested to access medical records to confirm all reported new diagnoses.

Higher intakes of yogurt were associated with a 30% reduction in risk of myocardial infarction among the Nurses’ Health Study women and a 19% reduction in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study men.

There were 3,300 and 2,148 total cardiovascular disease cases (myocardial infarction, stroke, and revascularisation) in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, respectively. Higher yogurt intake in women was associated with a 16% lower risk of undergoing revascularisation.

In both groups, participants consuming more than two servings a week of yogurt had an approximately 20% lower risks of major coronary heart disease or stroke during the follow-up period. When revascularisation was added to the total cardiovascular disease outcome variable, the risk estimates were reduced for both men and women, but remained significant.

Higher yogurt intake in combination with an overall heart-healthy diet was associated with greater reductions in cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.

“We hypothesised that long-term yogurt intake might reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems since some previous small studies had shown beneficial effects of fermented dairy products,” said one of the paper’s authors, Justin Buendia. “Here, we had a very large cohort of hypertensive men and women, who were followed for up to 30 years. Our results provide important new evidence that yogurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”

Abstract
Background: High blood pressure (HBP) is a major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. Clinical trials including Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) have demonstrated beneficial effects of dairy consumption on risks of HBP and CVD. Yogurt, a fermented dairy product, may independently be related to CVD risk.
Objective: To evaluate the association between yogurt consumption and CVD risk among hypertensive individuals in 2 large cohorts and to determine whether the association differs among those whose eating pattern more closely resembles the DASH diet.
Methods: Overall, 55,898 female Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and 18,232 male Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) participants with prevalent HBP were included. Cumulative average estimates of yogurt intake from validated food frequency questionnaires were related to verified self-reported CVD outcomes using Cox proportional hazards models. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were adjusted for CVD risk factors, medications, and diet covariates.
Results: Yogurt intake was inversely associated with CVD risk (myocardial infarction and stroke) among hypertensive participants (P <0.01 in both cohorts). Among participants consuming ≥2 servings/week of yogurt, NHS women had a 17% (95% CI: 0.74–0.92) lower risk while HPFS men experienced a 21% (95% CI: 0.66–0.96) lower CVD risk compared to those who consumed <1 serving/month. Regular yogurt consumers with higher DASH diet scores had 16% (95% CI: 0.73–0.96) and 30% (95% CI: 0.57–0.85) CVD risk reductions in the 2 cohorts, respectively.
Conclusion: Hypertensive men and women who consumed ≥2 servings/week of yogurt, especially in the context of a healthy diet, were at lower risk for developing CVD.

Authors
Justin R Buendia, Yanping Li, Frank B Hu, Howard J Cabral, M Loring, BradleePaula A Quatromoni, Martha R Singer, Gary C Curhan, Lynn L Moore

Oxford University Press material
American Journal of Hypertension abstract


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