Packed with proteins, vitamins, and minerals, dairy products provide our body with essential nutrients that help ward off certain health complications. A recent study out of the University of Cambridge has revealed that high yogurt consumption, compared to no yogurt consumption, is associated with a 28 percent reduction in the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes.

“At a time when we have a lot of other evidence that consuming high amounts of certain foods, such as added sugars and sugary drinks, is bad for our health, it is very reassuring to have messages about other foods like yoghurt and low-fat fermented dairy products, that could be good for our health,” lead researcher Dr. Nita Forouhi, from the university’s Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, said in a statement.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are currently 26 million people in the United States affected by diabetes, and close to 95 percent of that figure is attributed to type 2. Among its most well known risk factors, an unhealthy diet ranks high on the list of lifestyle choices that can lead to a diabetes diagnosis. People suffering from diabetes are also susceptible to a host of other health complications including heart disease, stroke, bacterial infection, and loss of limb.

Forouhi and her colleagues from Cambridge used the EPIC-Norfolk study, a daily record of food and drink consumptions among 25,000 men and women living in Norfolk, UK. Out of a random sample of 3,502 participants, 753 people developed new-onset type 2 diabetes over the span of 11 years. Researchers scanned for lifestyle factors including education, weight, other eating habits, daily caloric intake, and overall health.

By asking each participant what types of food and drinks they consumed each day at the end of each week of the study, the research team concluded that daily consumption of low- and high-fat dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, was in no way associated with a risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes. In fact, participant’s who recorded the highest consumption of dairy items throughout the study period reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 24 percent compared to those who did not consume dairy at all.

Participants who consumed, on average, 125-gram pots of yogurt each week were observed in a separate portion of the analysis to study its effect on type 2 diabetes development by itself. Yogurt accounted for 85 percent of low-fat fermented dairy products consumed by the people involved with this study. Those who consumed the highest amount of yogurt effectively lowered their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 28 percent.

Research on Greek yogurt in particular has showed that its high protein, low carbohydrate, and low sugar content is clearly a healthy benefit for diabetics. "For folks with diabetes, the lower carbs are a plus," Dr. Tami Ross, vice-president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, told EverydayHealth. "You can work in the yogurt for a snack without having to account for so many carbohydrates."