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Yoghurt lowers women's diabetes risk

Published:Wednesday | March 28, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Charlyn Fargo, Contributor

If you're worried about getting diabetes, you may want to eat another cup of yoghurt. A new study finds that low-fat dairy products may reduce older women's risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, reports that consumption of low-fat dairy products, particularly yoghurt, was associated with the lower risk.

Previous research suggests that low-fat dairy backs that up, according to an article in the March 2012 Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. However, this study focused on an ethnically diverse group of postmenopausal women, a group typically at high risk for developing Type-2 diabetes.

Dr Karen Margolis and colleagues of Health Partners Research Foundation looked at data on 82,076 older women in the ongoing Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. The women were initially free of diabetes. During a follow-up period, 3,946 developed Type-2 diabetes.

Tracking dairy consumption

Food-frequency questionnaires were used to track participants' dairy consumption at the study's start and three years later. Average consumption of all dairy products was 1.5 servings a day, with low-fat dairy accounting for 0.8 servings. Yoghurt consumption in the study group was low, averaging just a half serving a week, and 38 per cent of the women said they rarely or never ate yoghurt.

The study found an association between low-fat dairy intake and reduced risk of developing diabetes particularly among obese women. Overall, high yoghurt consumption was associated with a significant decrease in diabetes risk. However, high-fat dairy products were not linked to lower diabetes risk.

How much dairy do you need? USDA's My Plate (www.choosemyplate.gov) recommends all adults consume an average of three daily servings of dairy, preferably one per cent fat or fat-free. A serving is one cup of milk, an eight-ounce container of yoghurt, two cups cottage cheese or one cup calcium-fortified soy milk.

Information courtesy of Journal of Nutrition, November 2011.

More calcium

Q: How important is it to get calcium periodically throughout the day, rather than in one or two large amounts?

A: More calcium is absorbed when calcium is taken in smaller amounts more frequently than when taken in larger amounts less frequently, said Dr Bess Dawson-Hughes, director of Tufts' HNRCA Bone Metabolism Laboratory. When the amount exceeds 500 milligrams to 600 milligrams, absorption drops off even more dramatically. A practical approach for those who need more than 600 milligrams of supplementary calcium per day is to split the dose.

Information courtesy of Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, www.creators.com.