Fermented dairy foods such as yogurt and cheese are often associated with positive gut health and probiotics. Now, there’s emerging nutritional science that shows fermented dairy foods may go further to positively enhance overall health and lower risk of chronic diseases. This ongoing development reaffirms the important role dairy foods play in healthy eating patterns.
Adults and children both benefit
A 2016 analysis of multiple observational studies showed that adults who consumed dairy foods, particularly yogurt, had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For children and teenagers, a study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that consuming yogurt at least once a week resulted in a healthier insulin profile, associating yogurt consumption with reduced risk for type 2 diabetes — and improved diet quality — compared with those who ate yogurt infrequently.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that higher intake of cheese within a balanced diet was associated with a 26 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and additional studies have corroborated similar results.
Scientists are beginning to understand that these additional health benefits stem from dairy foods’ unique package of nutrients working together in the body to facilitate digestion and absorption. This results in health benefits beyond nutrition, and dairy delivers more than other food groups.
Emerging research demonstrates that while other foods may deliver similar nutrients naturally or through fortification, dairy’s package of nutrients, contained in what’s known as a food’s nutrient matrix, presents unique biological properties that interact with one another once in the body. This is great news for the dairy community, as it supports the need for dairy to remain part of future nutrition guidance.
The three eating patterns currently recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans include Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern, Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern, and Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern. All three guidelines emphasize consuming a wide variety of whole, nutritious foods, including milk and dairy foods, in order to meet nutritional needs and reduce risks for chronic diseases.
Still falls short
While recommendations are clear, many Americans continue to underconsume dairy, vegetables, and fruits, which creates nutrient gaps and ultimately increases risk for chronic diseases or other health conditions.
As research continues to further solidify the important role of milk and dairy foods in healthy eating patterns, dairy farmers and processors can help educate their communities, customers and consumers. This can be done by staying abreast of emerging research and sharing key findings — and Dairy Council of California can help.
Dairy Council of California uses an in-house tracking analysis system to monitor nutrition research, education, policy, and marketing and communications trends to empower the dairy community. The information is deeply rooted in credible science. To stay up to date on these trends, visit HealthyEating.org/Trends.
Through the continued support of the dairy community, Dairy Council of California can elevate the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits for another 100 years, igniting a passion for milk and dairy foods today and in the future.