Eating Yogurt and Your Health
Why is it important to incorporate yogurt in your daily diet? Ronit Giladi, Dietician at Strauss Dairies, explains why “regular” yogurt consumers gain less weight and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes
People who eat yogurt every day will gain less weight and are less prone to type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of scientific studies recently published in leading medical journals. Nutrition experts stress that the most up-to-date studies in nutrition indicate that regular consumption of yogurt contributes significantly to public health, and they strongly recommend daily consumption of yogurt as part of a balanced, healthy diet. Yogurt is a source of a nutrient-rich diet that contributes to our health in many ways. Most dietary guidelines in the world recommend the consumption of 2-3 portions of milk daily, and it is important to incorporate yogurt in one of these portions.
Yogurt assists weight loss
Two recently-published studies have shown the significant benefits of yogurt n losing weight and, among other things, reducing the risk of excess weight or obesity. The first study, which followed more than 6500 people for 17 years, found that people who ate more than three portions of yogurt a week were 50% less likely to gain weight (they proportionally gained less weight), and their waist measurement was 20% smaller than people who ate less than one portion of yogurt a week, (Reference below 1).
A second study, conducted among 8516 people, found that people who ate more yogurt every day (at least one yogurt a day on average) were (Reference below 2), 10% less likely to develop excess weight or suffer from obesity.
How do researchers explain the fact that yogurt assists weight loss?
Yogurt is rich in many nutrients, including protein, vitamins B-2, B-6, B-12, calcium, potassium, zinc and magnesium which are essential for our metabolism. The acidity of yogurt increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients such as calcium.
A review by Jacques Wang (Reference below 6), suggests several possible mechanisms that include calcium and other nutrients found in abundance in yogurt (like proteins, whey and casein, bio-active peptides, amino acids and unique fatty acids) which help accelerate weight loss and reduce fat mass, while increasing the lean body mass. Probiotic yogurt bacteria also have a considerable impact in the weight loss process and they interact well with intestinal bacteria.
Over the years Many studies have reaffirmed the connection between yogurt consumption and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
One of the biggest concerns of global health authorities regarding public health today, is the massive increase in the percentage of people classified as being overweight, and the obesity pandemic in the 21st century. The average weight gain between the ages of 18-49 in the West today is estimated at one kilo a year, which is an alarming figure.
These two recent studies on yogurt reassert the evidence and numerous scientific studies accumulated over the years, which have concluded that yogurt has a positive effect on weight gain.
Yogurt helps prevent the development of type 2 diabetes
Over the years Many studies have reaffirmed the connection between yogurt consumption and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common among older or obese people. A scientific review published recently found a direct link between consumption of 120g yogurt (about a cup) daily and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (Reference below 3).
Another surprising study that was recently published by researchers from Cambridge suggests that people who ate in average 4-5 portions of yogurt a week had a 28% less chance of developing type 2 diabetes (Reference below 4).
Teenagers, can also benefit from the health properties of yogurt
Another alarming figure shows that many teens today are at risk of heart disease as a result of being overweight, having high blood pressure and high blood lipid levels. Recent results of a pan-European survey (Reference below 5) indicate that children who consume yogurt regularly do and will benefit from better protection against heart disease in the future, and that incorporating yogurt in our daily life is vital for better health. This study, which involved about 500 teens aged 12-17, found that girls who ate yogurt and milk had lower risk of developing heart disease compared to those who didn't, and that boys on the same diet were leaner and fitter.
Since making informed choices of foods is very important to our health, incorporating yogurt in our daily diet is a good choice because it adds high bio-quality protein and available calcium to many other essential nutrients that favorably affect our health. This bounty of nutrients is found in yogurt with low caloric level and low percentage of fat. In addition, and equally important, yogurt constitutes a portion of essential and effective probiotics that enriches the microflora (bacteria lining in our intestines) with friendly bacteria.
The direct conclusion resulting from the recent studies presented here is that eating yogurt on a regular basis is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. Other studies have shown the contribution of yogurt in preventing disease and its impact on risk factors of cardiovascular disease such as a lower risk of hypertension (Reference below 7), hyperlipidemia (Reference below 8), diabetes and metabolic syndrome (Reference below 7,8) (improving the metabolic profile and reducing the risk of triglycerides and blood glucose).
Regarding yogurt "only" as a food product that helps people stay healthy is, therefore, a partial perspective that should be part of a wider perception which must be understood and internalized, like the fact that yogurt has a positive impact on public health and disease prevention, and that yogurt is undeniably a partner that should be present in our daily diet.
References 1. Wang H, Troy LM, Rogers GT, et al. Int J Obes (Lond) 2014;38(2):299-305. 2. Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Sayon-Orea C, Ruiz-Canela M, et al. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2014 Jun 15. pii: S0939-4753(14)00197-5. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2014.05.015. [Epub ahead of print] 3. Aune D, Norat T, Romundstad P, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98(4):1066-83. 4. O'Connor LM, Lentjes MA, Luben RN, et al. Diabetologia 2014;57(5):909-17. 5. Bel-Serrat S, Mouratidou T, Jiménez-Pavón D, et al. Pediatr Obes 2014;9(5):401-410. 6. Jacques PF, Wang H. Yogurt and weight management. Am J Clin Nutr 2014 May;99(5Suppl):1229S-34S. 7. Ralston RA,LEE JH. A systemastic review and meta analysis of elevated blood pressure and consumption of dairy food. J Hum Hypertens 2012; 54:856-60. 8. Agerholm- Larsen, Bell ML. The effect of probiotic milk on plasma chelsterol: Ameta analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr 2000; 56 (9):843-9.