If you’ve never seen a cow with diabetes, maybe there’s a good reason. New research suggests that certain dairy products may help people avoid type 2 diabetes.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge took a closer look at the possible link between dairy products and diabetes, and reported their results in the journal Diabetologia. They looked at how much high-fat and low-fat milk, cheese, and fermented dairy products people consumed, and compared that to how many of those people developed type 2 diabetes over time. Their findings suggest that when it comes to reducing type 2 risk, all dairy products are not alike.

Eat your yogurt

Overall consumption of dairy products didn’t seem to raise or lower diabetes risk. But people who ate low-fat fermented dairy products several times a week had a 24 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That was especially true with low-fat yogurt, which showed a 28 percent diabetes risk reduction compared to people who ate no yogurt.

Previous research has suggested that calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and certain fatty acids in low-fat dairy products may lower type 2 diabetes risk. Yogurt and other fermented dairy products also have probiotic bacteria and vitamin K which may be of further help.

Yogurt may also help by being an alternative to cookies, chips, and other snacks that may lead to obesity and its higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Did dairy make the difference?

Were other factors responsible for the apparent difference that low-fat fermented dairy products produced? Scientists did their best to take other possible factors into account. Before calculating the study’s results, they corrected for such things as education, obesity, lifestyle, eating habits and total calorie intake in the thousands of people examined.

While the study doesn’t prove cause and effect, it does offer intriguing evidence that anyone who wants to prevent type 2 diabetes may want to reach for the yogurt more often.

To learn more about diabetes and nutrition:
Eating Right Can Stave Off Neuropathy
Protein a Key Factor of Diabetic Diets
Is It Advisable for a Type 2 Diabetic to Try a Vegetarian Diet?