Want to Prevent High Blood Pressure? Eat More of This

Updated: Jun. 11, 2024

Plus, the delicious, nutrient-packed foods you can pair it with to maximize its heart-healthy benefits.

Blood pressure checks are crucial during healthcare visits. Even moderately elevated blood pressure, often asymptomatic, earns the ominous title of “silent killer” due to its potential dangers. A hypertension diagnosis heightens the risk of heart attacks, dementia, and other complications if not managed through diet and medication. However, waiting for healthcare professionals to express concern about readings isn’t necessary. The best time to prevent high blood pressure is before it becomes problematic.

New research, published on May 3, 2024, in the International Journal of Hypertension suggests that incorporating yogurt into one’s diet could potentially help maintain healthy blood pressure levels. The study, conducted by researchers from the Jilin University’s Department of Cardiology in China, examined the relationship between yogurt consumption and blood pressure among individuals with and without a high blood pressure diagnosis. Utilizing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a comprehensive database tracking the health statistics of Americans over time, they analyzed how varying levels of yogurt consumption impacted blood pressure.

In their examination of over 3,000 adults aged 18–85, the researchers discovered that those who consumed yogurt at least once a month, up to several times per week, were less prone to developing high blood pressure as they aged. However, individuals already diagnosed with high blood pressure did not experience the same benefits.

Regular yogurt consumption among participants correlated with improvements in various blood pressure readings, including systolic and diastolic numbers, and mean arterial pressure. Notably, systolic numbers decreased by 1-2 mmHg in yogurt-eating individuals, a reduction that could potentially translate to a 10% lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular mortality across the population, said researchers. 

“Based on these findings, we suggest that yogurt consumption may have a preventive effect on the development of high blood pressure among the general population,” stated the researchers. However, they acknowledge that yogurt may not be the sole contributing factor, as individuals who included it in their diets were more likely to be younger, female, and have higher levels of education. Plus, yogurt appeared to have a minimal effect on blood pressure in those who had already been diagnosed, suggesting it couldn’t reverse any damage already done.

Yogurt’s positive impact on blood pressure isn’t entirely novel. Previous studies have shown that yogurt can help control blood pressure. It also isn’t the only food with heart-protective benefits. Incorporating yogurt and other nutritious foods like bananas, oats, beans, and salmon could contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. The American Heart Association has long cautioned against seeing any one food as a “miracle cure” for blood pressure at the expense of a heart-healthy diet supplemented with adequate physical activity, stress management, and medication as necessary. Continuous communication with healthcare providers remains essential for the long-term management of the condition.