Regular consumption of yogurt may reduce the risk of developing hypertension, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

Huifen Wang, from Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues examined the longitudinal association of yogurt consumption with blood pressure (BP) levels and hypertension prevention among 2,197 adults from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort (exams five to eight in 1998-2001 to 2005-2008) who were free of hypertension at exam five. Yogurt consumption was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire.

The researchers found that, at baseline (exam five), 44% of participants consumed at least one serving of yogurt per month and mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure were 117 mm Hg and 72 mm Hg, respectively. Hypertension developed in 913 subjects over 14 years of follow-up, whereas BP and yogurt intake both increased.

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Compared with non-consumers, people who had high intake of yogurt (consumed more than 2% of total calories from yogurt) had a 31% decreased risk of hypertension, after adjusting for demographics, lifestyle factors, and cholesterol-lowering medication use. The high-intake group had a significantly smaller annualized elevation of systolic BP than non-consumers (0.19 mm Hg). The longitudinal association between yogurt intake and annualized systolic blood pressure change was strengthened by excluding antihypertensive medication users at follow-up.

“Higher yogurt intake, as part of a healthy diet pattern, may be beneficial for blood pressure control and hypertension prevention,” the authors concluded.

The study was funded in part by research grants from the Dannon Company.