The Benefits of Yogurt for Diabetes, Plus Finding the Healthiest Brands

Quality yogurt provides nutrients such as calcium and B vitamins, and stimulates the growth of beneficial gut bacteria required for good digestion and overall well being.

Studies show this combination of nutrients and good bacteria may also help with type 2 diabetes prevention, and reduce the risk of some diabetes related health issues:

  • Research from the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that even a small serving of yogurt every day may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 18 percent.
  • After following 2,000 people over 15 years, an American Heart Association study found that consuming just 6 ounces of yogurt about every three days was associated with a 31 percent reduced likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
  • Various studies show that those who eat yogurt regularly tend to gain less weigh over time.
  • Consuming probiotic yogurt has been linked to overall improvements in mood and mental health, and may help alleviate the anxiety or depression that sometimes makes diabetes management more difficult.

So, while enjoying yogurt will not cure any of our ills, it may help us manage some of them; however, not all yogurt is created alike.

High Quality, Low Sugar Yogurt

Much of the yogurt sold commercially in the U.S. is more dessert than health food. The sugar content alone, often more than 20 grams per serving, may negate the benefits of a scant bacteria supply. Many brands also use artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors, thickeners, and other not so healthy additives.

The highest quality yogurts are typically organic brands that use whole milk from grass-fed cows, but there are other good, better, and best options available.

The quickest way to learn which commercial yogurts are the most beneficial is to look over the Cornucopia Institute’s Yogurt Report (link below). It makes clear what is put in each manufacturer’s yogurt cup, and includes a cost analysis of the different brands.

Easy Make At Home Yogurt

Another healthy option is to make your own yogurt, and here is a very easy five-step recipe for doing so:

  1. Pour boiling water into a 1 quart glass jar (with screw-on lid); let it stand for five minutes to sterilize. Pour out the water and set the jar aside.
  2. Heat one quart of whole milk in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan until a thermometer reads 180 degrees F. Then, remove pan from the heat. (Whole milk is recommended, but 2 percent or other milk can be used if you prefer.)
  3. When the milk’s temperature falls to 115 degrees, thoroughly stir in 1/4 cup high-quality plain whole milk yogurt; pour mixture into the jar and screw the lid on.
  4. Put the jar in a warm place and let it sit undisturbed for 10 to 12 hours. If your house is cool, wrap the jar in a towel. To make a thicker yogurt, let the jar sit an extra three to five hours.
  5. Before eating, refrigerate the yogurt for at least three hours.

To sweeten a serving of plain yogurt without adding carbs or calories, add bit of stevia powder and a drop of vanilla extract. You might also flavor your yogurt with a few berries, a few pieces of dried fruit, some mashed-up banana, or whisk in a spoonful of peanut butter.

Sources: Cornucopia/Yogurt Report; Green Med Info; NPR
Photo credit: Kanko

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