WEDNESDAY, Feb. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People looking to
avoid type 2 diabetes might want to increase the amount of yogurt
they eat, a new study by British researchers suggests.
According to the results, eating yogurt could reduce the risk of
developing diabetes by 28 percent, compared to not eating any
yogurt. Additionally, eating some other fermented dairy products,
such as low-fat cheeses, could cut the risk by 24 percent.
"What our study shows is that yogurt should be part of a healthy diet," said lead researcher Dr. Nita Forouhi, group leader of the nutritional epidemiology program at the Medical Research Council at the University of Cambridge.
Although this study did not directly address the nutrients in
yogurt or low-fat fermented dairy products that are most
beneficial, previous information suggests what they're likely to
be, she said.
"These include calcium, magnesium, vitamin D (in fortified dairy products) and potentially beneficial fatty acids, which are present in dairy products generally," Forouhi said. "Fermented dairy products, including yogurt, are likely to have the further benefits of specific types of vitamin K and probiotic bacteria."
She cautioned that this study "does not prove a cause-and-effect
relationship, but highlights the importance of considering food
group subtypes in diet/disease associations. Much past research has
focused on overall total dairy products intake, whereas our
research was able to examine subtypes of dairy products."
The university-funded study was published Feb. 5 in the journal
Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone
Medical Center, in New York City, said the new study "appears to
echo what some studies, but not all, have found, which is that
low-fat dairy foods may help reduce the risk of type 2
Emerging research suggests that gut microbes play important
roles in the development of type 2 diabetes, inflammation and other
diseases, she said.
"Scientists are also looking at the effects of fermented soybean products in preventing or in delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes," Heller said. "Fermented foods contain probiotic bacteria that are good for the gastrointestinal tract. Fermented foods include yogurt and cottage cheese with live, active cultures, miso, kimchi, kefir [a yogurt-based drink], sauerkraut and tempeh."
For the study, Forouhi and colleagues collected data on 4,255
men and women who were part of a larger British study. This group
included 753 people who developed type 2 diabetes over 11 years of
follow-up and 3,502 randomly selected people for comparison.
Looking at these people's diets, the researchers found that the
amount of high-fat dairy or total low-fat dairy was not linked to
the risk of developing diabetes -- once factors like healthy
lifestyles, education, obesity, other eating habits and total
calorie intake were taken into account.
Milk and cheese consumption was also not associated with the
risk of developing diabetes.
But what was significant was the amount of low-fat fermented
dairy products, such as yogurt, fromage frais (a fresh, low-fat
curd cheese similar to cottage cheese), and low-fat cottage cheese
participants ate, Forouhi's group found.
For those who ate the most of these foods, the risk of
developing diabetes shrank 24 percent, compared with those who
didn't eat any, the study found.
When the investigators looked specifically at yogurt, the risk
of developing diabetes was reduced by 28 percent.
The lowered risk was seen among people who ate about 4.5
standard 125-gram cups (about 4.4 ounces each) of yogurt a week.
This was also the case for other low-fat fermented dairy products,
such as low-fat unripened cheeses, including fromage frais and
low-fat cottage cheese, the researchers reported.
In addition, eating yogurt instead of other snacks, such as
chips, further cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, they
Including fermented foods like yogurt as part of an overall
healthy diet is a good idea but is not the whole story,
nutritionist Heller said.
"A primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese," Heller said. "Regular exercise, shifting to a more plant-based diet and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will go a long way in helping to prevent type 2 diabetes."
To find out more about healthy eating to reduce diabetes risk,
American Diabetes Association.
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