Consuming more than two servings of yogurt per week may lower the risk of developing heart disease or stroke, a study claims.
High blood pressure or hypertension 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, according to the study published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
"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 Justin Buendia from Boston University School of Medicine in the US.
"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," said Buendia.
The research included over 55,000 women (aged 30-55) with high blood pressure from the Nurses' Health Study and 18,000 men (aged 40-75) who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
Higher intakes of yogurt were associated with a 30 per cent reduction in risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack among the Nurses' Health Study women and a 19 per cent 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 per cent lower risk of undergoing revascularisation, according to researchers.
The surgical procedure places new blood vessels around existing blockages to restore necessary blood flow to the heart muscle.
In both groups, participants consuming more than two servings a week of yogurt had an approximately 20 per cent lower risks of major coronary heart disease or stroke during the follow-up period, researchers said.
When revascularisation was added to the total cardiovascular disease outcome variable, the risk estimates were reduced for both men and women, but remained significant, they said.
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.