Hang with me for a second. I realize that it’s not rocket science when I tell you that dairy products help maintain good bone health. We know they do because they contain high amounts in bone building and maintaining nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. But as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN)and health practitioner for the public, I was taken back by a recent study that was published showing us more promise on a specific type of dairy.
A large observational study from Dublin, Ireland  looking at dairy and bone health discovered something very interesting. Dairy in the specific form of yogurt seemed to help in maintaining bone mineral density (BMD) and improved physical function in older adults. For every serving of yogurt, women reduced their risk of osteoporosis by 39% and men by 52%. These conclusions seem to mimic the conclusions seen in the Framingham Offspring Study .
Why Yogurt Over Milk or Cheese?
The answer may be in the gut microbiome. It is a fascinating area of research where researchers are looking at the origins of immunity and overall human health. Yogurt contains a unique blend of nutrients that may assist the musculoskeletal conditions of aging . In addition to bone health, fermented foods have shown other benefits in the areas of digestion and overall immune health.
I have noticed in my own consultations with people that some have an issue with the texture of yogurt. Additionally, statistics still tell us that overall yogurt intake is still relatively low in men. How do we convince those folks to include yogurt in their daily diet?
Smart & Creative Ways to Eat Yogurt
Now that we have established that yogurt in its basic form is good for overall health, let’s explore smart and palatable ways to eat this super food. Yogurt contributes a tart and/or sour flavor depending on your own flavor description. In order to make yogurt a food product people want to consume, additional flavors are often added; and the easiest ways you see this is through added sugar. Although it does not decrease the nutrient content of the food, it does add extra calories that do not provide nutritional value. If you want some optimal ways to get more yogurt into your diet, try the following:
- Look for plain yogurt and add your own natural fruit to increase the flavor acceptance. If you choose one that is pre-flavored, choose a variety with the least amount of added sugar. Note: some sugar is naturally occurring in the form of lactose. Lactose intolerant? No problem. Most people (including me) that have lactose intolerance, can tolerate yogurt since the bacteria helps break down the lactose.
- Greek yogurt can often be used in the place of sour cream or some milk bases, so switch it out to use in vegetable dips, dressings, sauces or as a topping on potatoes or tacos.
- Add regular or Greek yogurt to fruit smoothies to boost the creaminess of your beverage. Use half milk and half Greek yogurt in a mix with 1-2 cup of mixed fruit.
- Freeze it! The texture is typically better for those that do not prefer it at room temperature. You can mix it with your favorite fruit and maybe even add a nutritional crunch with some nuts. Note: Do know that freezing may kill most of the yogurt’s active cultures, but not the vitamins and minerals.
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My family loves my freshly made Creamy Greek Yogurt Dip that has 2/3 less fat and triple the protein of a regular, commercial Ranch vegetable dip. Boost the bone health nutrition of your veggie plates by making this dip instead.
Creamy Greek Yogurt Dip
- 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
- ½ cup olive oil-based mayonnaise
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup white onion, finely diced
- ½ teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until mixed well. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Serve with your favorite veggies or enjoy with some whole grain crackers. Want to use it as a dressing? Slowly whisk in about ¼ cup of milk or until desired consistency.
Nutrition Information (as a dip, per serving, 3T)
75 Calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g sugar, 3g protein. Makes 8 servings.
However you choose to enjoy your yogurt, make room for it in your day. Aim for one serving consistently each day, which is one cup per day for adults.
Cheers with your yogurt cup and mine, and may the luck of the Irish be upon you!
Featured Image: Shutterstock
In-Post Images: Provided by author, Cleveland Clinic.com & pinterest.com
 Sahni, S., Tucker, K.L., Kiel, D.P. et al. Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study, Arch Osteoporosis (2013) 8: 119.
 Steves CJ, Bird S, Williams FM, Spector TD (2016) The microbiome and musculoskeletal conditions of aging: a review of evidence for impact and potential therapeutics. J Bone Miner Res 1 31(2):261–269