Yogurt Does a Menopausal Body GoodDec 14, 2021
The probiotic-rich food helps digestion, is rich in nutrients women need, and can lower blood pressure.
By Selene Yeager
If there’s one food group that comes up a lot for menopausal health, it’s yogurt. With good reason. It’s an excellent source of calcium, which we need for bone maintenance. It provides a healthy dose of protein (especially Greek yogurt) for our muscles. It’s also one of the top sources of probiotics. So it helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which can be disrupted during menopause, paving the way for increased insulin resistance, lower metabolism, and fat gain. Now a new study shows that it can lower blood pressure in adults with hypertension.
That’s good news for menopausal women, because as estrogen production drops, blood pressure generally rises. In fact, research has found that 75 percent of postmenopausal women in the U.S. have high blood pressure.
The study, which was published in the International Dairy Journal, examined yogurt intake and blood pressure in more than 900 adults, average age 62 and 60 percent female, and found that people who ate yogurt had lower blood pressure.
"This study showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of yogurt [i.e. less than once a week] were associated with lower blood pressure,” said study author and research associate at University of South Australia Dr. Alexandra Wade in a press release.
"And for those who consumed yogurt regularly [defined as daily in the study], the results were even stronger, with blood pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume yogurt."
This isn’t the first study to find a link between yogurt and cardiovascular health. A 2018 study that included more than 55,000 women published in the American Journal of Hypertension reported an inverse relationship between yogurt consumption and cardiovascular disease risk in people with high blood pressure. Specifically, women who ate two or more servings of yogurt per week had a 17 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who ate fewer than one serving per month.
“Dairy foods, especially yogurt, may be capable of reducing blood pressure. This is because dairy foods contain a range of micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are involved in the regulation of blood pressure,” Wade said in the release.
“Yogurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins, which lowers blood pressure,” she says.
I started drinking kefir in the mornings when I was mountain bike stage racing, because it’s something they had in nearly every country I raced in, and I could count on it as a race breakfast staple mixed with granola. Today I just drink it plain while making my breakfast. I can’t claim it’s the reason I have maintained a healthy blood pressure, even post menopause, but if this research is any indication, it certainly hasn't hurt.
The one caveat for eating yogurt (or its cousin, kefir) regularly is added sugar. The yogurt case resembles the candy aisle with all the super sweet flavors like key lime pie and chocolate cheesecake, and all the fruit syrupy varieties. You’re better off buying plain yogurt with little to no added sugar and mixing in your own whole fruit.
For plant-based women and those who don’t do dairy, there are many plant-based yogurts on the market today, including those made from cashews, almonds, and soy. Just be sure to read the labels. Though vegan yogurts contain probiotics, they can be lower in protein and calcium than dairy yogurt and can be high in added sugar, so, as always read your labels.
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