Today’s dietary guidelines recommend that Americans consume more nutrient-rich foods that are low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol. Yet, few are meeting these goals. Unfortunately, roughly three-fourths of Americans need to improve their diets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Healthy Eating Index.
Nutrient-dense foods provide plentiful nutrients with relatively few calories. Such foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, lean meats and seafood. Eating too few of these important foods can leave the body without enough valuable nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, potassium, or dietary fiber.
One food group in which Americans are falling short is low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume three servings daily. Unfortunately, most people only get about half that amount, according to USDA data.
So why should we consume nutrient-dense foods like yogurt?
The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) in collaboration with the Danone Institute International and The Nutrition Society in the United Kingdom is working with international nutrition and health experts to study the health effects of yogurt through a global initiative called Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative for a balanced diet. As part of this effort, the initiative will examine new and emerging data around the health effects of yogurt, spark research and share key scientific information with both the health care community and the public.
Rich in protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium and healthy bacteria, the already proven benefits of yogurt consumption include:
• A better diet: A recent study found that people who eat yogurt have higher intakes of essential nutrients and better diets overall. From one good habit comes another.
• Easy digestion: If you’re lactose intolerant, yogurt offers a nutrient-dense, more easily digestible alternative to milk and other products that contain lactose.
• Weight management: As reported in the “New England Journal of Medicine,” consumption of yogurt, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are associated with less weight gain over time, with yogurt showing the greatest association.
• Overall health: Consumption of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, such as yogurt, is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults.
From curries to parfaits, there are plenty of delicious ways to incorporate this nutrient-rich food into meals and snacks.
For more information on the health effects of yogurt, visit www.nutrition.org/yogurt.