A balanced diet is important to support good health and largely depends on appropriate nutritional and food intakes. Within the diet, certain foods such as yogurt are scientifically recognized as being beneficial to our health.
Yogurt stands as a nutrient-rich food
Due to its composition, yogurt is a nutritionally dense-food. It contains both micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – and macronutrients, including proteins and fatty acids (1). Regarding protein content, yogurt provides high-quality protein, including all essential amino acids in the proportions needed for protein synthesis. Moreover, they are proved to be more digestible than proteins in standard milk (2), probably because the fermentation process of making yogurt starts to break them down into smaller units.
Yogurt is a well-recognized source of calcium, but it also provides smaller amounts of many other micronutrients, including potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B5, and vitamin B12 (3).
Yogurt consumption is associated with reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is a worldwide health challenge: type 2 diabetes (T2D) is characterized by an abnormally high blood glucose levels or glycaemia. When glycaemia chronically outreaches a precise defined threshold, there is an increased risk of developing adverse long-term outcomes.
Nowadays, data from cohorts’ studies indicate there may be a beneficial association between yogurt consumption and T2D prevention (4,5,6,7):
- Yogurt is a low glycemic index food (in average around 41 for a plain unsweetened yogurt, against 100 for pure glucose), suggesting that it does not cause a large spike in blood glucose levels after a meal.
- Yogurt consumers are less likely to have unhealthy lifestyles that are linked to T2D development.
- Live bacteria in yogurt can improve the composition of the gut microbiota and this may help to reduce inflammation linked to T2D.
- The risk of T2D has been shown to fall by 7% for each 10 μg increase in dietary vitamin K2, and a whole-fat yogurt contains up to 28 μg of vitamin K2 per 100 g serving.
Yogurt consumption contribute to support cardiovascular health
Having a healthy diet is one of the most important ways of preventing cardio-vascular disease (CVD). Yogurt, with their diverse assortment of different bioactive, nutrient-rich compounds, especially when consumed with fruit, have been linked with a reduced risk of CVD. Yogurt consumption was also repeatedly found to be associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure (8).
Yogurt consumption supports cardiovascular health. The association between its consumption and reduced risk of CVD may be due to the protective properties of some of yogurt components (9,10,11):
- Micronutrients (calcium, potassium, magnesium) have been linked to a reduced risk of stroke.
- Yogurt and dairy products are rich in micronutrients and proteins, some of which have been associated to lower blood pressure.
- Low-grade inflammation underlies the pathology of CVD, and some saturated fatty acids found in dairy products (e.g. lauric acid) may have anti-inflammatory effects.
- Fermented dairy products such as cheese, yogurt or probiotic fermented milks have a high antioxidant potential i.e. the ability to combat oxidative damage (12) and could play a part in healthy and active ageing (13). The fermentation process influences the dairy fat composition. Consequently, it increases the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid, which, evidence suggests, may have several anti-atherosclerotic benefits including changes in body fat, lipid profile and blood pressure (14).
Consuming yogurt may contribute for strong and healthy bones
Yogurt, as part of the dairy product group, is indeed recommended in many dietary guidelines because of its nutrient content deemed essential for bone health. Not only is it rich in nutrients essential for bone health, most notably calcium, yogurt also contains proteins important for bone health (15).
On the one hand, yogurt consumption is linked to healthy growth of bones during childhood and adolescence thanks to its high calcium content. On the other hand, yogurt consumption could reduce the risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures in elderly people (> 60 years old). Statistical modelling of yogurt intake and bone health actually predicted that each increase of one serving per week of yogurt intake was associated with a 39% lower risk of osteoporosis in women and a 52% lower risk in men (16).
Thus, encouraging people to eat yogurt more often may be a valuable public health strategy to ensure healthy growth but also stave off osteoporosis (16).
For more information:
- How can yogurt help? (infographic)
- Is there an incidence of dairy foods on diabetes and mortality? 3 new investigations
- Yogurt consumption is associated with reduced risk of T2D
- Yogurt is rich in nutrients essential for bone health