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The Benefits of Yogurt

What's tasty, easy, and has lots of health benefits? Yogurt!

Benefit No. 2: Yogurt May Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure

A recent study, which followed more than 5,000 Spanish university graduates for about two years, found a link between dairy intake and risk of high blood pressure.

''We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake,'' Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an email interview.

Although most of the low-fat dairy consumed by the study subjects was as milk, Alvaro believes low-fat yogurt would likely have the same effect.

Benefit No. 3: Yogurt With Active Cultures Helps the Gut

Yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • H. pylori infection

That's what researchers from the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded in a recent review article.

The benefits are thought to be due to:

  • Changes in the microflora of the gut
  • The time food takes to go through the bowel
  • Enhancement of the body's immune system

A recent Taiwanese study looked at the effects of yogurt containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium on 138 people with persistent H. pylori infections.

The researchers found that the yogurt improved the efficacy of four-drug therapy.

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause infection in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine. It can lead to ulcers and can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.

Benefit No. 4: Yogurt With Active Cultures May Discourage Vaginal Infections

Candida or "yeast" vaginal infections are a common problem for women with diabetes. In a small study, seven diabetic women with chronic Candidal vaginitis consumed 6 ounces of frozen aspartame-sweetened yogurt per day (with or without active cultures).

Even though most of the women had poor blood sugar control throughout the study, the vaginal pH (measure of acidity or basicity) of the group eating yogurt with active cultures dropped from 6.0 to 4.0 (normal pH is 4.0-4.5). These women also reported a decrease in Candida infections. The women eating the yogurt without active cultures remained at pH 6.0.

Benefit No. 5: Yogurt May Help You Feel Fuller

A study from the University of Washington in Seattle tested hunger, fullness, and calories eaten at the next meal on 16 men and 16 women who had a 200-calorie snack. The snack was either:

  • Semisolid yogurt containing pieces of peach and eaten with a spoon
  • The same yogurt in drinkable form
  • A peach-flavored dairy beverage
  • Peach juice

Although those who had the yogurt snacks did not eat fewer calories at the next meal, both types of yogurt resulted in lower hunger ratings and higher fullness ratings than either of the other snacks.

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