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Can eating yogurt really reduce your risk of diabetes?

by Sarah Garone, NDTR
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Can a simple refrigerator staple help prevent type 2 diabetes? A new ruling from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows food manufacturers to claim that yogurt reduces the risk of this chronic disease.

As of March 1, 2024, the FDA has announced that it will not object to the use of certain qualified health claims regarding yogurt consumption and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, as long as the claims are not misleading to consumers. . There are two types of claims currently allowed:

  • “Regularly eating at least 2 cups (3 servings) of yogurt per week may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.”The FDA concludes that there is limited information to support this claim. .”
  • “Limited scientific evidence suggests that regularly eating at least 2 cups (3 servings) of yogurt per week may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.”

But what exactly is a “qualifying” health claim?

“The FDA considers a qualified health claim to be a claim that is supported by scientific evidence but does not meet the ‘significant scientific consensus’ (SSA) standard,” says Dr. Educators too Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCESauthor of 2 days diabetes diet, Said health.

While SSA standards require well-designed studies and consensus among scientists about the health effects of foods, qualifying health claims do not require such extensive support. For this reason, the FDA requires specific language regarding these claims.

Given these implications, some are concerned that this new ruling could mistakenly lead consumers to believe that yogurt is a magic bullet for type 2 diabetes.

“It may be misleading for consumers to think that yogurt provides a ‘quick fix’ for blood sugar levels.” Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCESsaid the nutritionist and diabetes educator who practices in Washington, D.C. health. This is definitely not the case, as not all yogurts are ideal for keeping blood sugar levels stable, she said. Still, some research on yogurt and type 2 diabetes is promising.

Below, we’ll take a look at whether eating yogurt every other day can really prevent diabetes.

Eva Catalin/Getty Images

The endorsement of yogurt and diabetes claims was years in the making.

Back in 2018, Danone North America (whose subsidiaries include Danone, Activia, and Silk Yogurt) filed a petition with the FDA seeking approval to market the product as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. .

The petition highlighted the evidence-based link that yogurt leads to lower rates of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, some studies have highlighted that yogurt as a whole food (rather than just individual nutrients) is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Over the next several years, the FDA reviewed this evidence, ultimately concluding that “some reliable evidence” supported an inverse association between yogurt intake and diabetes risk (although “the evidence does not “Limited,” the FDA notes). .

Yogurt has long been known as a health food because it is rich in probiotics and protein. These nutrients may help reduce her risk of type 2 diabetes.

“As a source of protein, yogurt can help regulate blood sugar levels and, especially when consumed at breakfast, may help regulate hunger later in the day,” says Thomason.

Meanwhile, a 2023 study suggests that probiotics could be a treatment for type 2 diabetes due to their ability to reduce inflammation.

As Danone noted, several studies have also investigated the effects of whole foods in yogurt on type 2 diabetes.

2022 Review Dairy Science JournalFor example, most cohort studies have found that fermented dairy products have a protective effect against the development of diabetes. Among the foods that protect against disease, yogurt was the most stable. And in a 2017 study, nutrition journal concluded that in the context of a broader healthy diet, yogurt may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in healthy adults and older adults at high cardiovascular risk.

On the other hand, not all studies are so impressive. 2019 meta-analysis nutrients We found that probiotic yogurt had no effect on fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, or insulin resistance. And some yogurts may even be harmful to people with (or at risk for) type 2 diabetes, Palinsky-Wade said. “Many commercially available yogurts are sweetened with large amounts of added sugar, which can have a negative impact on blood sugar levels.”

To make smart choices with your blood sugar levels in mind, it’s best not to just grab store-bought yogurt.

“Unsweetened yogurt containing live active cultures (probiotics) may have the greatest impact when it comes to impacting blood sugar levels and diabetes,” Palinski-Wade recommended. She recommended looking for high-protein yogurt (such as plain Greek yogurt) to balance blood sugar levels and regulate appetite.

But if you’re really looking for flavor, you’re not without options. “Look for flavored or sugar-free options that don’t have added sugar,” Thomasson suggested. “These are often sweetened with artificial sweeteners and ingredients such as stevia, but they do not contribute to the daily sugar content and raise blood sugar levels.”

Yogurt may help lower blood sugar levels, but it’s not the only food that can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Palinsky-Wade says foods like berries, beans, lentils, almonds and avocados are all good for stabilizing blood sugar levels.

In general, anti-inflammatory diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet may also suppress blood sugar levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet include improved hemoglobin A1C and cholesterol levels.

Of course, if you like yogurt, feel free to include it as a diabetic-friendly snack as long as it’s low in carbohydrates and high in protein. “If you already have diabetes, yogurt can help manage your blood sugar levels and provide you with a healthy dose of protein and probiotics that promote intestinal function,” Thomason said. .

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