Good news for dairy lovers.
There’s new evidence which shows that eating fermented dairy products like low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese may help to prevent Type 2 diabetes. The new findings are from the conclusions of an 11 year study of 3,500 men and women in Britain, whose eating and drinking habits were studied in detail.
Even when adjusted for obesity and genetic links for Type 2 diabetes, it was found that those who ate low-fat, fermented dairy products including yogurt and certain cheeses, were 24 percent less likely to develop the disease than the study participants who ate very little or none of the products. Curiously, only low-fat fermented dairy products had any affect – milk and full-fat fermented versions had no impact.
When isolated in the study, low-fat yogurt accounted for a 28 percent reduced risk in developing Type 2 diabetes. If study participants ate low-fat yogurt as a snack instead of salty chips or sugary snacks, their likelihood of developing the disease dropped by a whopping 47 percent.
Why does low-fat yogurt help to prevent Type 2 diabetes?
The study, published in the journal Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) , didn’t probe why yogurt and other dairy products had this affect, as it only tracked eating habits and disease. But the paper’s authors suggest that probiotic bacteria and Vitamin K in yogurt and other fermented dairy products might be at the heart of the matter.
In previous studies, probiotic bacteria have been found to improve lipid profiles and antioxidant levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Low-fat fermented dairy products are also low energy-dense foods, due to their low fat and high water content. According to the authors, “Studies have shown an independent association of low energy-dense foods with lower fasting insulin levels and the metabolic syndrome and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.” Dairy products are also rich in Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and beneficial fatty acids.
“At a time when we have a lot of other evidence that consuming high amounts of certain foods, such as added sugars and sugary drinks, is bad for our health, it is very reassuring to have messages about other foods like yogurt and low-fat fermented dairy products that could be good for our health,” said lead author Nita Forouhi, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge.
“In public-health terms this equates to 4.5 standard-size portions per week of low-fat fermented dairy products, largely composed of yogurt… and including low-fat unripened cheese such as low-fat cottage cheese,” Forouhi said.
But we should include a note of caution when buying yogurt in American supermarkets: Avoid flavored, pre-packaged yogurts and buy plain, unflavored low-fat yogurt instead. Flavored yogurts frequently contain extraordinary amounts of sugars and fillers, and may have very little actual yogurt. Instead, buy plain yogurt, and add your favorite fruit or seasonings like cinnamon for flavor. We also suggest that you include it in your breakfast, as the high protein in plain yogurt will keep the mid-morning hungries away.