Yogurt Could Help Reduce Risk Of Heart Attacks, Boston U, Harvard Researchers Say

Eating yogurt could be instrumental in preventing heart attacks and strokes, as the food was shown to reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular events by up to 30 percent in a recent study.

In a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Hypertension, researchers from Boston University and Harvard University reported that men and women with hypertension were substantially less likely to suffer cardiovascular events when they ate at least two servings of yogurt per week. This was particularly pronounced in women, who had their risk of heart attacks in specific reduced by 30 percent. Men, on the other hand, were 19 percent less likely to suffer from these events.

For the purposes of their study, the researchers looked at 55,898 women aged 30 to 55 who took part in the Nurse's Health Study, and 18,232 men aged 40 to 75 who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and analyzed their eating habits, as indicated in questionnaires they had previously filled out. All the men and women who participated in both studies suffered from high blood pressure, and were tracked for up to 30 years.

All in all, there were 3,300 women and 2,148 men who suffered from cardiovascular events over the 30-year follow-up period. According to Science Daily, both men and women were about 20 percent less likely to suffer from heart attacks or stroke, and while these risk estimates went down when revascularization was counted as one of the heart events, the risk reduction was still considered "significant."

According to a report from the Daily Mail, the researchers have a theory explaining why yogurt helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. As earlier studies had suggested, calcium facilitates the heart's normal concentration and relaxation, and hinted that probiotics (the fermentation agents found in yogurt and other similar foods) could reduce one's blood pressure, the researchers believe that both factors combine to make yogurt an ideal food for anyone who wants to avoid heart disease.

"Our results provide important new evidence that yogurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains," read a statement from study author Justin Buendia from Boston University.

The new research is not the first of its kind to link yogurt consumption to certain health benefits. The Cleveland Clinic cited a late 2012 study, which suggested that yogurt consumers had better metabolism, lower body-mass index, and lower levels of bad cholesterol, among other indicators that were improved by regular consumption of the so-called "superfood." Another paper cited by the Cleveland Clinic linked yogurt to lower long-term weight gain, and while the hospital did not directly associate yogurt to a lower risk of heart disease, it stressed that people who weigh less tend to have healthier hearts.

Although it wasn't directly related either to yogurt reducing the risk of heart disease, the Daily Mail also cited another study that suggested last month that vitamin D, which can be found in yogurt, can reduce "internal stress" in the cardiovascular system, thus potentially preventing heart events.