Eating Yogurt May Cut Diabetes Risk, New Research Shows
Worried about the risk of developing diabetes? You might want to eat more yogurt. That’s the takeaway from new research out of the University of Cambridge, which found that a significantly lower percentage of study subjects who ate yogurt at least four times a week developed diabetes than those who did not.
Using data from a long-term study of the diets and health of 30,000 people in Norfolk, England, the researchers compared the diets of 753 participants who developed Type 2 diabetes over an 11-year period with 3,500 randomly selected people from the same population who remained healthy.
The study, which was published yesterday in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, analyzed study participants’ consumption of all dairy products as well as specific foods.
Eating yogurt four times a week could cut your diabetes risk, research shows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Like all such studies, the research documents only an association and does not prove cause and effect, cautioned lead researcher Dr. Nita Forouhi, an epidemiology group leader at the Medical Research Council at the University of Cambridge.
Nevertheless, yogurt contains calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and fatty acids, all of which have known health benefits, according to Forouhi. The fermentation process that turns milk into yogurt also produces probiotic bacteria and “specific types of vitamin K,” that are known to be beneficial.
While Forouhi and her team stopped short of identifying a mechanism for the protective effects of yogurt, it’s likely that probiotic bacteria play a key role. Recent research has pointed towards the role of gut bacteria in mediating inflammation and thus increasing or decreasing the risk of numerous diseases including colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease, as well as diabetes.
In the last few years, studies have also suggested that eating nonfat and low-fat yogurt can aid weight loss, and boost immunity. How much yogurt is the right amount? Approximately four to five half-cup servings a week if you take your guidance from this study, which found the protective benefit came to those who ate 4.5 125-gram (approx. 4.4 oz.) cups of yogurt a week.
Forouhi and colleagues found no association between diabetes risk and consumption of milk or regular cheese. However, when it came to the overall category of low-fat fermented dairy products, which includes cottage cheese and fromage frais, another curd cheese, as well as yogurt, the risk of diabetes dropped by 24 percent. When the researchers isolated low-fat yogurt by itself, the risk went even lower, to 28 percent.
One caveat to all this: It is important to pay attention to the sugar content in many store-bought yogurts. Flavored yogurts can contain as much as 27 grams of sugar (the equivalent of just over two tablespoons), and when you add extras like “crunch” and toppings, of course it goes up from there. Here’s an interesting rundown of the sugar content of some popular brands and flavors.
All the attention to the health benefits of yogurts has paid off in the market, new statistics suggest. Sales of yogurt and yogurt-related products, such as kefir, have increased 40 percent since 2008 and are projected to top $9 billion by 2017, increasing between 5 and 7 percent year over year between now and then, according to data from Mintel.
Greek yogurt brand leader Chobani announced a 21.3 percent jump in sales in 2013 and industry-watchers have their eye on French brand Danone (Dannon, Oikos), which is now making a big push into the U.S. market and saw its market share grow from 18 to 29 percent last year.
Sales of frozen yogurt are growing at an even faster rate, according to Food Product Design, increasing by 74 percent to $486 million in 2013 – in contrast with ice cream sales, which were relatively flat.
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