Yogurt can make for a delicious breakfast or lunch, and a healthy one at that. The creamy dairy product is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins, and probiotics.
Yogurt is a favorite among nutritionists and health experts because it pairs well with other healthy foods like fruit, oatmeal or granola. And of course, it’s a must-have for health-centric smoothie lovers.
So what could adding yogurt as a regular part of your diet do for your body? There’s been no shortage of research surrounding the consumption of yogurt and the health benefits it offers. Here’s a look at five studies published on StudyFinds that show why yogurt really is a fantastic food for you.
Improves bone health, lowers osteoporosis risk
Research out of Ireland shows that eating more yogurt may improve your bone health. Bone health in seniors is a big concern because of the risk of developing osteopenia, a prelude to osteoporosis.
For the study, a group of 1,057 women and 763 men were checked for bone mineral density (BMD), while 2,624 women and 1,290 men were assessed for physical function.
Women who consumed the most yogurt had about 3.1% to 3.9% higher hip and femoral neck BMD levels than those who ate the least amount of yogurt. Some of the physical function measures were 6.7% higher in the yogurt lovers. For men, results show a 9.5% lower indicator of bone breakdown for those with the highest yogurt consumption versus those on the other end of the scale. Thus, this means there is “reduced bone turnover” in those who eat the most yogurt.
With all the differences in risk factors taken into consideration, the study determined that for women, each additional serving of yogurt reduced the risk of osteopenia by 31% and reduced the risk of osteoporosis by 39%. In men, the risk of osteoporosis dropped by 52%.
READ MORE: Eating Yogurt Regularly Improves Bone Health
Could help prevent diabetes, inflammation
Here’s a great reason to enjoy a daily serving of yogurt: it can help tackle arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and even stress. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, kimchi, and kombucha tea boost good gut bacteria and seems to help prevent inflammation — which can trigger diabetes and arthritis.
Eating these foods led to an increase in overall microbial diversity in the gut, with stronger effects from larger servings. The levels of 19 inflammatory proteins – which are markers of inflammation – also decreased. One of these proteins, called interleukin 6, has a connection to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and chronic stress.
The discovery was seen during a study comparing the effects of high-fiber and high-fermented food diets. While high-fiber diets have a link to lower rates of mortality, none of the 19 inflammatory proteins decreased in participants eating a high-fiber diet. On average, the diversity of their gut microbes did not change for high-fiber eaters.
Results show that those who increased their consumption of fermented foods showed similar effects on their microbiome diversity and inflammatory markers which chimed with previous research showing that short-term changes in diet could change the gut microbiome.
Yogurt, fermented milk products may help reduce high blood pressure
Could the road to better blood pressure pass through the dairy aisle of your local market? A study finds that consuming fermented milk products such as yogurt could help to reduce high blood pressure.
Growing evidence suggests that gut bacteria, or microbiota, might have an effect on the development of high blood pressure. That’s in addition to a person’s genetics and the environment they live in. However, healthy bacteria and organic proteins present in certain fermented milks could control this microbiota and therefore help to reduce high blood pressure.
Experts say there is potential for the development of tailor-made fermented milks with gut microbiota modulation and blood pressure-lowering effects. Fermented milk products include yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk, and filmjölk (Scandinavian sour milk).
Eating yogurt twice a week cuts risk heart attack, cardiovascular disease
Researchers from Boston University and Harvard Medical School say that eating yogurt twice a week is linked to a lower heart disease risk, especially in people with high blood pressure.
Their study examined health records of 55,000 women between the ages of 30 and 55 and 18,000 men ages 40 to 75. Participants submitted records of their daily dietary habits along with any diagnoses such as heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular conditions.
Results show that women who consumed a higher daily intake of yogurt than other individuals saw a 30% reduction in risk of suffering a heart attack. Male participants were 19% less likely to suffer an attack. Both men and women saw a 20% reduction in risk of major coronary heart disease if they reported eating two servings of yogurt per week or more.
Moreover, the results provide an important new evidence that yogurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
It may be an effective treatment for autism
Could a healthy cup of yogurt hold the key to undoing the behavioral impairments common in autism? Research shows that gut bacteria may help to ease the symptoms of the developmental disorder.
The study conducted with mice reveal symptoms of autism improved after they were fed the probiotic microbe Lactobacillus reuteri. Along with living in the gastrointestinal tract of humans, the healthy bacteria can also be an ingredient in probiotic yogurt. Results show that mice taking L. reuteri displayed boosts in their social interactions.
The study discovered that hyperactivity in mice with neurodevelopmental disorders is controlled by the host’s genes, with social problems influenced by gut bacteria. Effective therapies would likely need to be directed at both the brain and the gut microbiome to fully address all symptoms. Modulating the gut balance improved the social behavior in the mice, but did not alter their hyperactivity.
Moreover, the bigger surprise came when the mice received a compound produced in the gut by L. reuteri. The metabolite also made them more sociable.
Perhaps one of our favorite things about yogurt is that is can be prepared and served in so many delicious ways. Do you have a preferred recipe or a go-to yogurt concoction as part of your diet? Let us know in the comments below.
Always remember to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before making any radical changes to your diet, particularly if it’s to help treat a condition.