Impact of Yogurt on Nutrition Intake, Overall Diet Habits and the Environment

A summary detailing the possible explanations for yogurt’s contribution to overall health concluded that yogurt’s naturally high nutrient density and lower energy density resulted in higher intakes of calcium, protein, and vitamin D combined with greater appetite control and weight maintenance. Furthermore, based on the calculated carbon footprint values (the sum of greenhouse gas emissions produced from production, processing, transporting, and retailing) yogurt attains classification as an ecofriendly food (roughly 200-300 g CO2/100 g or 100 kcal) suggesting long-term sustainability. While the majority of diet quality studies support yogurt, future studies should aim to increase specificity, taking into account the variety of different products on the market as well as individual lifestyle factors in order to fine tune data and analysis.1

 Bone health and the frequency of yogurt consumption.

In a recent study of Irish adults over the age of 60, researchers found that eating yogurt daily carried a 31% decreased risk for osteopenia and 39% and 52% decreased risk of osteoporosis in women and men respectively. In comparing women who frequently consumed yogurt to women who did not consume yogurt, the study found frequent consumers had a significantly higher bone mineral density in their hip and femoral neck bones as well as a greater ability to preform daily activities. The consumption frequency of other dairy foods (i.e. cheese and milk) did not show a positive nor negative connection with bone mineral density.2

Benefits of yogurt consumption on metabolic health and body composition.

A cross sectional analysis of the Quebec Family Study found that both male and female yogurt consumers (one or more serving per day) presented with lower BMI, waist circumference, percent body fat, and glycemic profile (C-peptide, insulin, plasma glucose) compared to non-yogurt consumers. After controlling for diet quality, these observations remained for men with only the glycemic measurements remaining for women. After a six year follow up, the measurements remained the same. Researchers think that the unique composition of yogurt (i.e., bacterial cultures, bioactive peptides and protein) contributes to these results. More research, including randomized controlled trials are needed to substantiate these results.3

The role of yogurt in preventing of type 2 diabetes.

A review of observational studies determining the role of yogurt in preventing type 2 diabetes (T2DM) found 13 prospective studies showing an inverse relationship of yogurt consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This inverse relationship was also seen in the most recent meta-analysis, which showed a 14% lower risk of T2DM when yogurt consumption was between 1/3-1/2 cups/d. (Note: this amount represents a minimum. No significant benefit is observed below this amount and no additional benefits are achieved when consumption exceeds this amount.) Based on this review, the authors suggest the potential of two mechanisms explaining this correlation: 1) reduction of adipose tissue as a result of the satiety potential of dairy leading to lower risk of insulin resistance and T2DM, 2) a direct effect of dairy products on insulin sensitivity or secretion. Randomized clinical trials are warranted to define the mechanism, if any, linking yogurt consumption and risk of T2DM to better understand dairy’s role in body weight and insulin resistance.4

References:

  1. Tremblay A, Panahi S. Yogurt consumption as a signature of a healthy diet and lifestyle. J Nutr 2017;147(Suppl):1476S-80S.
  2. Laird E, Molloy AM, McNulty H, Ward M, McCarroll K, Hoey L, Hughes CF, Cunningham C, Strain JJ, Casey MC. Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults. Osteo Intl 2017;28:2409-2419.
  3. Panahi S, Doyon CY, Despres JP, Perusse L, Vohl MC, Drapeau V, Tramblay A. Yogurt consumption, body composition, and metabolic health in the Québec Family Study. Eur J Nutr 2017;56:1-13.
  4. Salas-Salvado J, Guasch-Ferre M, Diaz-Lopez A, Babio N. Yogurt and diabetes: overview of recent observational studies. J Nutr 2017;147(Suppl):1452S-61S.
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