Research points to heart-healthy benefits of yogurt

Many of us enjoy a cup of yogurt in the morning.

Now, recent research suggests that eating low-fat yogurt can be a beneficial part of a heart-healthy diet.

The study looked at consumption of dairy products – particularly yogurt and milk and their impact on metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of health risks that includes an enlarged waistline, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, high levels of blood fats, and insulin resistance.

Any combination of three or more of these conditions means a person is at high risk for heart disease or stroke.

Researchers found that folks who had one serving of yogurt or one serving of milk had a lower risk for metabolic syndrome.

“The study found that consuming both milk and yogurt and other dairy products helped reduce metabolic syndrome risk factors like blood sugar levels, and triglyceride levels; helped lower blood pressure and helped maintain a good HDL cholesterol too,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Kate Patton, R.D., who did not take part in the research.

Patton said the study’s findings are consistent with what we know about the ‘DASH’ diet which includes two to three servings of dairy, per day, to help lower blood pressure.

She said making yogurt a part of an every-day healthy diet has its benefits, but it’s best to avoid yogurts with a lot of added sugar – too much added sugar can push numbers in the wrong direction.

“I recommend choosing a plain Greek yogurt and sweetening it yourself with a little bit of vanilla extract, or fruit,” said Patton. “If the flavored versions are too sweet, you can even mix half-flavored and half-plain, and sometimes people like the taste a little bit better this way.”

For those who want to try adding more yogurt to their diet, but just don’t like the texture, Patton recommends mixing it with other items.

“Adding some fresh fruit, some slivered nuts or ground flaxseed will give it a different flavor and texture,” she said. “Or if you really don’t want to eat it by itself, you can add it to a smoothie and mix it in with fresh fruit and milk.”

Complete results of the study can be found in The British Journal of Nutrition.