How Is Yogurt Good For Your Health?

Yogurt is considered a healthful choice of snack as it can be packed with nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamins, probiotics, and more. The exceptions, of course, are mostly to do with lactose intolerance and high sugar content.

Most experts recommend Greek yogurt among all varieties. Rather than added sugar, people can also consider flavoring the product themselves by using fresh fruit. Once you've got this right, here are some of the benefits noted by health experts and studies.

1. Stronger bones

In a large Irish study of older adults, researchers observed a strong association between increased yogurt consumption and better bone density. In turn, they estimated a reduced risk of osteoporosis in both men and women, at 52 percent and 39 percent respectively.

"The results demonstrate a significant association of bone health and frailty with a relatively simple and cheap food product," said Dr. Miriam Casey, senior investigator of the study and consultant physician at St. James's Hospital in Dublin.

2. Immunity boost

Good gut health is a key factor which has been linked to better digestion, better sleep, lower risk of illnesses, and reduced severity of infections.  As a well-known source of probiotics (i.e. good bacteria), yogurt can not only improve our digestive health but may also give our immune system a boost. 

This was also indicated in a study where people who ate yogurt before a high-fat meal showed reduced signs of inflammation. As Caroline Childs from the University of Southampton notes, if you can "reduce the inflammation, you might have less associated diseases."

3. Better heart health

In an Australian study, researchers examined if the consumption of dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt had any association with cardiovascular disease risk factors in older women. Yogurt was found to be the only dairy product associated with a lower carotid artery intima-media thickness.

In simpler terms, this suggests a possible benefit of preventing the thickening of the certain arteries which could reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. In the past, similar research has also found associations with regulated blood pressure but higher levels of HDL or good cholesterol.

4. Weight management

"Yogurt can be a great snack for weight loss because of its protein content," said Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet. "It helps keep you full so you're not starved an hour after you eat."

She also recommends reading the nutrition label to make sure the yogurt contains enough protein. Sometimes, low-calorie varieties may contain low levels of protein as well. 

"In that case, you would probably be better off choosing one that has more calories but 12 to 15 grams of protein so it's easier to stay full until your next meal," Gans added.