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FDA announces that eating yogurt can help prevent type 2 diabetes

FDA announces that eating yogurt can help prevent type 2 diabetes
FDA announces that eating yogurt can help prevent type 2 diabetes

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The FDA found credible evidence suggesting that yogurt consumption could be associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued a statement regarding the potential health benefits of yogurt, particularly in relation to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. This announcement follows the evaluation of a petition by Danone North America, advocating for health claims that link regular yogurt consumption with a decreased likelihood of developing this chronic condition.

Health claims on food labels are tools used by manufacturers to inform consumers about potential health benefits related to their products.

These claims must be grounded in scientific evidence and are categorized into two types: authorized health claims and qualified health claims. Authorized claims require robust evidence and consensus within the scientific community, while qualified claims are supported by preliminary evidence but do not meet the stringent criteria of significant scientific agreement.

In its review of the evidence provided by Danone and other relevant studies, the FDA found credible but limited evidence suggesting that yogurt consumption could be associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

The agency emphasized that the health benefits appear to be linked to the food as a whole, rather than any specific nutrients it contains. This means that the potential benefits are not tied to the yogurt’s fat or sugar content.

The petition highlighted that consuming at least two (2) cups of yogurt — equivalent to three servings — per week may offer protective benefits against type 2 diabetes.

The FDA, in a move to guide manufacturers on how to appropriately convey this relationship without misleading consumers, has outlined conditions under which these health claims can be made.

The FDA’s letter of enforcement discretion details two potential claims that could be made about yogurt:

  • “Eating yogurt regularly, at least 2 cups (3 servings) per week, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. FDA has concluded that there is limited information supporting this claim.” 

  • “Eating yogurt regularly, at least 2 cups (3 servings) per week, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes according to limited scientific evidence.”

These statements are crafted to ensure clarity and prevent misinterpretation, reflecting the cautious optimism of the scientific findings without overstating the evidence.

This development reflects the FDA’s ongoing efforts to ensure that health-related information on food labels is accurate and not misleading, allowing consumers to make informed dietary choices. It also underscores the evolving nature of nutrition science, where emerging evidence can lead to new dietary recommendations and health claims.

The decision to allow qualified health claims for yogurt’s potential to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, albeit with caveats, is an example of regulatory flexibility in the face of scientific exploration.

Other benefits of yogurt in the diet

Rich in nutrients: Yogurt is packed with essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5.

Probiotics: Many yogurts contain live probiotic cultures, which are beneficial bacteria that can improve gut health. They help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which is essential for digestion and overall health.

Improved digestion: Probiotics in yogurt can help alleviate digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They may also reduce the risk of developing conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Enhanced immune function: The probiotics found in yogurt may boost the immune system by promoting the production of antibodies and enhancing the activity of immune cells.

Weight management: Eating yogurt as part of a balanced diet may aid in weight loss and weight management. It’s a satisfying and nutritious snack that can help control appetite and cravings.

Bone health: Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, which is essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Regular consumption of yogurt may help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Reduced risk of heart disease: Some studies suggest that eating yogurt regularly may lower the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure.

Improved skin health: The probiotics and nutrients in yogurt may contribute to healthier skin by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria on the skin’s surface.

Enhanced mood: There’s emerging research suggesting that the gut-brain connection plays a significant role in mood regulation. Since yogurt can positively influence gut health, it may also have indirect effects on mood and mental well-being.

Better dental health: The calcium and probiotics in yogurt can benefit dental health by strengthening teeth and gums and reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Incorporating yogurt into your diet as part of a balanced and varied intake of foods can provide these health benefits and more. However, it’s essential to choose yogurts with live and active cultures and minimal added sugars for maximum health benefits.

Note: You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

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