A new study has suggested that adding low calorie yogurt to your diet may help lower your risk of high blood pressure.

The new information presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions, has found that long-term yogurt eaters had a lower systolic blood pressure, as well as a diminished risk of developing high blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure is the measure of how powerful the blood is against the walls of your arteries when your heart is beating. It is the top number in a blood pressure reading.

Hypertension can be a commonly misunderstood condition. According to the American Heart Association,untreated high blood pressure damages and scars your arteries. Tears and scars in the arteries can act like a net catching debris traveling through the bloodstream, such as cholesterol and plaque, which can then lead to build ups or blockages. It is important to be aware of blood pressure measurements, because symptoms are many times non-existent.

Past studies have established various health benefits of yogurt. Frequent consumption has been associated with healthier body weight and lower body mass index.

Yogurt contains calcium, many needed daily nutrients and is easy to add to a meal or have as a snack. A great source of protein, yogurt keeps you feeling full slightly longer and also has liquid that provides hydration.

These researchers conducted a study lasting 15 years following more than 2,000 volunteers who did not have high blood pressure at the beginning of the study. Over the study period, participants filled out questionnaires three different times to measure yogurt intake.

Results showed that 31 percent of volunteers were less likely to develop high blood pressure when at least 2 percent of their daily caloric intake was yogurt, equivalent to at least one six-ounce cup of low-fat yogurt every three days. Their systolic blood pressure also increased significantly less than those who did not eat yogurt. These findings support a common belief that low-fat dairy products reduce blood pressure.

A healthy diet including low-fat yogurt, paired with physical activity, can help prevent chronic diseases such as hypertension and manage your health.

It should be noted that this study was presented at a conference and published as an abstract. It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald