Yogurt: Good for Your Heart?

Studies reveal more health benefits of this superfood
Greek yogurt with fresh fruit

You know what’s good about yogurt: It has calcium and vitamin D to strengthen your bones. It has protein to build muscle.

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And if that weren’t enough, studies now show that yogurt is good for your heart.

Healthy cholesterol, healthy blood pressure

Eating yogurt is linked to having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to one study: “Compared with nonconsumers, yogurt consumers appeared to have better metabolic profile, such as lower BMI, waist circumference, levels of triglycerides, fasting glucose and insulin, and blood pressure but higher HDL [good] cholesterol.”

The study found that people who ate more yogurt, ate less processed meat and refined grains. Yogurt eaters ate more fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains and other healthy foods, and therefore had higher levels of potassium, vitamins B2 and B12, calcium, magnesium, zinc and other micronutrients.

Less weight gain

Eating yogurt (as part of a healthy diet) also is linked with gaining less weight long-term, says another study. Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains showed similar results – but not as good as the results from eating yogurt.

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When you weigh less, your heart stays healthier because it doesn’t need to work as hard to carry and nourish your body. The lower your weight, the lower your risk of heart disease.

Greek or original: Which yogurt should you choose?

Whether you’re trying to build muscle, lose weight or just live heart-healthy, you’ve got lots of yogurt options. Even if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, there are yogurts for you.

“Plain, nonfat yogurt is best,” says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, dietitian in Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation. “Choose either original or Greek styles. Both are excellent sources of protein, natural probiotics and calcium. For managing your weight, try Greek yogurt. It has more protein, which can help you feel fuller longer.”

Whichever style you prefer, try to avoid fruit-on-the-bottom varieties, she notes. They come with extra calories. If you choose fruited yogurt, keep it less than 120 calories per container (5-6oz.) and no more than 12-13 grams of sugars.

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How to work more yogurt into your diet

Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, fruit compote or preserve (without added sugar), or vanilla or almond extract,” recommends Kate Patton, RD, LD, another dietitian in Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation. “Or, if you just cannot stomach plain yogurt, add up to 1 teaspoon of honey or agave nectar OR try mixing ½ cup plain yogurt with ½ cup sweetened yogurt with no more than 12 grams of sugar.”

Substitute sour cream or mayonnaise with Greek yogurt in dips, dressings or soups, she says. Add Greek yogurt to smoothies.

No matter how you do it, try to work yogurt into your diet every day. A serving or two a day (5-6 oz. or ¾ cup= 1 serving) can add a lifetime of health benefits for your heart.

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