Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yoghurt a day 'cuts risk of high blood pressure'

The usual epidemiological nonsense.  Yoghurt is not a traditional food for many people so middle class people are more likely to take it up and they have better health anyway

Eating a small pot of yoghurt a day can cut the chance of having high blood pressure by a third, a study suggests.

Naturally-occurring calcium can make blood vessels more supple, enabling them to expand slightly and keep pressure low, say dietitians.

American researchers who looked at the diets of some 2,000 volunteers, found those who regularly ate a little yoghurt were less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Specifically, those who took two per cent of their calories from yoghurt were 31 per cent less likely to develop high blood pressure over a 15 year period, than those who did not.

That equates to about 40 or 50 calories from yoghurt daily, or about half a typical 4.3oz (120g) individual pot.

Huifen Wang, a public health specialist at Minnesota University, presented the research at an American Heart Association meeting about high blood pressure on Wednesday.

Rick Miller, a member of the British Dietetic Association, said calcium had “a plethora of effects on the body, including a hypo-tensive effect, meaning it helps to lower blood pressure.”

He explained: “Calcium is needed in muscle tissue, including blood vessel walls, and if there isn’t enough, they are not going to operate properly. In effect the calcium helps keep vessels supple.”

Calcium from dairy products like yoghurt and milk was particularly good for this, he said.

But taking too much calcium in pill form could have the opposite effect, he cautioned.

Studies indicate it can then be deposited on artery walls, leading to hardening of the arteries.

Mr Miller said were also suggestions that the ‘friendly’ bacteria in yoghurt could help lower blood pressure, although these were not conclusive.

Professor Gareth Beevers, a trustee of the Blood Pressure Association, said other studies had shown yoghurt to have a "small effect" on lowering blood pressure, but he said it should not be considered a way of counteracting it in people who already had hypertension.

"I would regard it as part of a healthy lifestyle - even if personally I can't stand the stuff," he said.

More than 8.5 million people are registered as having high blood pressure. People with the condition are three times more likely to develop heart disease and suffer strokes as people with normal blood pressure and twice as likely to die from these.

Patients are often put on drugs to lower their blood pressure, such as beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. In 2008, the NHS in England spent £83 million on beta-blockers alone.


'Healthy' vitamins to avoid if you're ill

Are you one of the many who has a pot of vitamins by the kettle or in the bathroom that you vow to take every day — but don’t? There may be no need to feel guilty after all.

Ten million of us take vitamins regularly — whether for general health or specific conditions. And we spend a whopping £175 million a year on supplements and pills which contain antioxidants that are claimed to help combat disease.

But despite all the promises, the pros and cons of vitamins and supplements are still very debatable — and studies show that some can be bad for your health.

Just last month U.S. researchers discovered the routine practice of taking calcium and/or vitamin D supplements to protect against bone loss caused by hormonal therapy for prostate cancer could actually be making patients’ conditions worse.

You should always speak to your doctor before taking any supplement, says Professor Hilary  Powers, head of human nutrition at Sheffield University.

‘Some illnesses can alter the way our body uses vitamins and minerals. Added to that, there may be adverse interactions between medications and supplements which might influence the safety of the supplement or action of the drug.’

Remember that it’s the vitamin and mineral supplements taken in addition to your daily diet that can cause problems — not the nutrients found in your day-to-day diet.

‘There’s absolutely no need to limit your intake of certain foodstuffs because they may contain a certain vitamin,’ stresses Sylvia Turner, of the British Dietetic Association.


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