Dr. Angelo Tremblay (Laval University, Québec) summarized an overview of key findings from observational cohort studies, conducted in Europe, North and South America. Firstly, recent data clearly demonstrated that diet quality is improved in yogurt consumers, compared to non-yogurt consumers. Big US cohorts like NHANES and Framingham showed in both adults and children that frequent yogurt consumption is associated with higher intakes of key nutrients, like proteins, vitamins B2 and B12, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc, which is not the case for low yogurt consumers or those who don’t eat it at all.
These findings are also observed in British children, who regularly consume yogurt: the yogurt consumers showed that yogurt made a useful contribution to micronutrient intakes, particularly vitamin B12, riboflavin, calcium, iodine and phosphorus. According to another US cohort, substituting one serving of low sugar, whole milk yogurt paired with fruit or vegetables, for current snacks would increase children’s consumption of valuable nutrients without adding excess sugar or energy.
A better diet quality and metabolic profile
Yogurt consumption is associated with better diet quality and metabolic profile in both American adults and children. Those frequent consumers had significantly better diet quality than infrequent consumers. Specifically, they consumed more fruit, whole grains, and milk. In addition, yogurt consumers tend to eat less fast food, french fries and fried foods, processed and red meats, pizza, snacks, regular soft drinks or alcohol, indicating a better compliance to the dietary guidelines.
The propensity of yogurt consumers to exhibit some good dietary behaviors is also observed in French adults, who displayed more favorable dietary and nutritional intakes: more fruits, fish, legumes, nuts, water, and fibers, less prepared meals and less alcohol than low consumers. High yogurt consumers also exhibited better adequacy to the dietary recommended allowances for 11 micronutrients (vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, C, A and calcium, iodine, selenium, copper).
These findings are also conform with the results of the Canadian study Infogene, demonstrating that yogurt consumers are more prone to adhere to a Prudent dietary pattern, characterized by higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, nuts, non-hydrogenated fats , whereas non-consumers of yogurt tend to exhibit a Western pattern, characterized by higher intakes of fried foods, processed meats, refined grains, regular soft drinks, etc. Moreover, yogurt consumption was associated with lower body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist circumference and tended to be associated with a lower BMI.
A wider influence on healthy lifestyle
Recent population studies have also raised the possibility that some foods, like yogurt, might have a symbolic value, according to which consumers of such foods display a healthier lifestyle. The results of the Quebec Family Study revealed that not only female yogurt consumers report a better diet quality than non-consumers, but they are also more physically active and are less likely to smoke. Yogurt consumers were also more likely to have a good knowledge of the food-health relationship and accustomed to reading food labels. All these behaviors are more compatible with body weight stability over time. According to other data outside US, yogurt consumption is associated with a healthier lifestyle in Brazilian population and in Italian population.
Yogurt was also recently shown to favorably influence satiety and to decrease subsequent energy intake. Its status as a fermented food confers properties that can be beneficial for body weight management.
Therefore, Professor Tremblay concluded his talk by saying that these data show that yogurt consumption is associated with a healthy eating pattern and lifestyle.
- Yogurt consumers have:
- Better nutritional intakes
- Healthier dietary patterns
- Healthier lifestyle
- more weight stability over time
- For all those scientific reasons, yogurt consumption can be viewed as a signature of a healthy diet & lifestyle