Breastfeeding can help women lose pregnancy weight, help women burn almost 500 calories per day, improve glucose tolerance and cholesterol metabolism. But do women who breast feed have a lower risk for heart disease?
A study published in the May 2009 issue of the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology examined this question. Breastfeeding utilizes fat stores in the body and releases oxytocin which can help relax blood vessels. The researchers in this study used data from the Women’s Health Initiative which included 140,000 postmenopausal women. Women who breast-fed for 1 or more months were less likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Women who breast-fed for at least 6 months had a significantly lower risk of heart disease. The longer a woman breast-fed the greater the benefit. This study definitely found a lower risk of heart disease risk factors in women who breast-fed but we do not know if this lower risk was attributed to breast-feeding or that women who breast-fed tended to follow healthier lifestyles. More research needs to be conducted to see if breast-feeding can impact future heart health ?