Nutrition

Is Yoghurt Good For People With Diabetes?

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

More than a medical term, ‘superfood’ is a marketing term used to describe foods whose constituents provide health benefits to individuals. Diabetes is a common lifestyle disease whose prevalence is shooting up due to our sedentary lifestyle. Consequently, many studies are being conducted to list the perfect ‘superfoods’ to manage the condition.  

The nutrient-dense yoghurt is considered to be great functional food. Its probiotic content cures many digestive issues. But is yoghurt good for people with diabetes? Does it have any role to play in controlling blood sugar? Is Greek yoghurt good for people with diabetes? Read on to find out the answers.

Nutrition Profile

The science of classifying foods according to their nutritional make-up is called nutritional profiling. India ranks among the top eleven countries that consume the most yoghurt. Yoghurt is prepared by heating milk and combining it with two live, probiotic bacterial cultures - Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus. Let us learn about its nutritional composition.

Proteins

  • Alpha casein
  • Whey

Fats and lipids

  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Ruminant trans fats

Carbohydrates

  • Lower lactose content, as compared to milk.

Vitamins

  • Boost immune system.
  • Prevent infections.

Minerals

What does the research say?

Is yoghurt good for people with diabetes? Research has confirmed the benefits of consuming yoghurt for type 2 diabetes control. A daily serving of yoghurt is supposed to minimise the risk of type 2 diabetes by 18%. Its probiotic content acts like its USP. According to research, the advantages of yoghurt for a type-2 diabetes diet are:

  • Healthy bacteria present in probiotic yoghurt make it easily digestible. It is linked with the reduction of inflammation and blood pressure.
  • Its antioxidant property causes a decline in oxidative stress.
  • Yoghurt, being a low-fat dairy product, decreases cholesterol levels. This minimises cardiovascular risks.
  • The low-fat content in yoghurt also helps avoid obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
  • Yoghurt is rich in calcium and vitamin D, which improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Glycemic index (GI) is the value assigned to a foodstuff based on its rapidity to increase blood sugar levels. Yoghurt has a low GI value and is protein-rich. 

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What makes a great yoghurt?

Lately, yoghurt has emerged as the healthiest choice among dairy products. But is yoghurt good for people with diabetes? Most definitely, yes. However, with so many yoghurt options, choosing the ideal one for managing blood sugar. Hence, read the label instructions properly before purchasing.

The two top tips for creating thick, creamy yoghurt are heating the milk at 90ºC for ten minutes before adding the bacterial culture and setting the yoghurt at a low temperature. Heating milk before culturing denatures the whey protein and increases the protein content. Setting at low temperatures ensures a lesser risk of whey separation.

The following must be kept in mind while choosing the suitable variety of yoghurt for type 2 diabetes:

  • Pick a low-fat or non-fat variety, as it contains lesser calories.
  • Go for the one containing live or active cultures, as they promote healthy gut bacteria. 
  • Try to select the unsweetened varieties. The yoghurt should not have more than 10 g of sugar content.
  • Ensure that the yoghurt variety has calcium and vitamin D. These prevent insulin resistance.
  • If you are looking for vegan options, choose a soy-based variety, as they are closest to a dairy-based one in terms of nutritional profile.

Which type of yoghurt is best?

What are the different types of yoghurt available? Is Greek yoghurt good for people with diabetes? The best yoghurt types to help you stabilise blood sugar levels are fat-free, unsweetened and plain. Here are the top five choices of yoghurt for type 2 diabetes:

1. Regular, unsweetened yoghurt

A plain, non-fat, probiotic-rich variety of yoghurt is the best option, any day. It contains no carbohydrates and is rich in proteins. It promotes healthy gut bacteria.

1. Greek yoghurt

The non-fat, unsweetened variety of Greek yoghurt is one of the best options for effective blood sugar control. It is much creamier and has a higher protein content. Furthermore, it is packed with calcium and probiotics. It is filling and keeps a check on your hunger cravings.

2. Icelandic yoghurt

It is made using skimmed milk. Hence, it has a low-fat and high-protein content with a milder flavour. It is also known as Skyr. People consider this particular yoghurt as fresh sour milk cheese, so it is a great option to include in your breakfast as it keeps you full. It has lower lactose than other yoghurts.

3. Kefir yoghurt

It has thinner consistency when compared to other yoghurts. It has a higher concentration of probiotics since kefir is a fermented product. Its consumption has been linked to lower fasting blood glucose levels.

What to watch out for?

Although yoghurt is a healthy option, even for diabetes, some red flags that you should look out for are:

  • Added toppings like candies or nuts, as they may increase blood sugar.
  • Artificial sweeteners, disguised as ‘flavours,’ These yoghurts have the potential to spike the blood glucose level after consumption. Instead, you can choose to add natural fruits as per your liking. 
  • Yoghurt varieties which are made out of whole milk, as they add to the fat content.
  • Added sugars, as it hampers glycemic control.

Bottomline

Yoghurt is undoubtedly the favourite option in dairy products among the health-conscious lot. 30 to 45% of the body’s daily calcium requirements are met with one serving of yoghurt. Its low-carb, low-fat and high-protein content makes it a great choice for persons struggling to control their blood sugar levels. For ages, yoghurt has remained a staple food in the diet of most Middle-Eastern and Asian countries. Owing to its health benefits, it is not surprising that this probiotic-rich food is gaining global acceptance.

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