Eating two yoghurts a week could significantly reduce the chances of having a heart attack
The best types to eat are plain ones which contain probiotics – known as “good bacteria”.
Dietitian Julia Zumpano, of the Cleveland Clinic in the US, said: “Choose either original or Greek styles.
“Both are excellent sources of protein, natural probiotics and calcium.
“If you are managing your weight, try Greek yoghurt.
“It has more protein, which can help you feel fuller longer.”
Our results provide important new evidence that yoghurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fibre-rich fruit, vegetables and whole grain
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine looked at 55,000 women aged 30 to 55 and 18,000 men aged 40 to 75 who had high blood pressure, which makes people more prone to heart problems.
The women who ate yoghurt regularly were 30 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack while among the men it was 19 per cent.
In both groups, those eating more than two yoghurts a week had a 20 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease or stroke over the 30-year follow-up period.
A number of previous studies have shown that dairy foods are good for a healthy heart.
Dr Justin Buendia, co-author of the latest report, said: “Long-term yoghurt intake might reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.
“Previous small studies have shown beneficial effects of fermented dairy products.
“Here we had a very large cohort of men and women with high blood pressure, who were followed for up to 30 years.
“Our results provide important new evidence that yoghurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fibre-rich fruit, vegetables and whole grains.”
Dr Buendia added: “Higher yoghurt intake in combination with an overall heart-healthy diet was associated with greater reductions in cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.”
High blood pressure – or hypertension – is known to heighten the likelihood of heart conditions.
The women who ate yoghurt regularly were 30 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack
It is believed it is not just the beneficial ingredients within the yoghurts which helps promote a healthy heart – but also that those who eat them tend to have a better diet anyway.
Earlier studies have shown that people who eat more yoghurt tend to consume less processed meat and refined grains.
Yoghurt eaters generally eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains and other healthy foods, and therefore have higher levels of potassium, vitamins B2 and B12, calcium, magnesium, zinc and other micronutrients.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
In the UK there are an estimated 2.3 million people living with coronary heart disease and around two million affected by angina – the most common symptom of coronary heart disease.
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Heart disease remains the nation’s biggest killer, claiming around 165,000 lives a year.
More than one adult in four in the UK has high blood pressure, although many do not know it.
It puts extra strain on blood vessels, the heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Over the long term, high blood pressure can increase the risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, kidney problems and dementia.
UK charities involved in research into maintaining a healthy heart have long stressed the importance of a good diet.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian with the British Heart Foundation, said: “Starting to make your diet healthier can be hard, but reducing the pressure on yourself can make it easier.
More than one adult in four in the UK has high blood pressure
“Having high blood pressure puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke, so it’s vital we do all we can to keep our levels in check.”
Government recommendations, backed by the BHF, are set out in the Eatwell Guide.
It suggests eating at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily fish such as mackerel.
You should also eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and choose a variety of different ones.
If you eat more than three ounces of red or processed meat a day, try to reduce this to two-and-a-half ounces or less.