Concerned about developing high blood pressure? Good news – a new study showed eating dairy foods, and in particular yogurt, was linked to reduced risk of high blood pressure in healthy adults.

Nearly 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, which increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.A new prospective study showed that a common, staple food group may help. The researchers found consuming dairy foods, including milk, cheese and especially yogurt was associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure in adults.

In the study, data from more than 150,000 females in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) and over 30,000 males in Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) was analyzed to evaluate the association between total dairy servings and individual dairy foods and the risk of developing high blood pressure. The results showed:

Those in the NHS, NHS II and HPFS groups who ate at least three servings of dairy (including milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and sherbet/frozen yogurt) per day compared to less than a half serving per day had a 13%, 25% and 7% lower risk of high blood pressure, respectively.
Regular yogurt consumption (defined as at least five servings per week vs. less than one serving per month) was associated with a 19%, 17%, and 6% lower risk of high blood pressure in the NHS, NHS II and HPFS, respectively.

There was an 18% lower risk of high blood pressure with each additional serving of yogurt eaten per day.
Subjects who both followed a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-style diet and ate at least five servings of yogurt per week had a 30% lower risk of high blood pressure as compared to those who had low yogurt consumption and did not align with the DASH diet.

The results of this study add to the body of research supporting a link between eating dairy foods and a reduced risk of high blood pressure. Additionally, the study provides support for current recommendations in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern for those 9 and older to eat three servings of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, like milk, cheese and yogurt, per day. Lifestyle choices, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough physical activity, can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.