A recent study has found that eating dairy products such as cheese, milk, butter, and yogurt can reduce an individuals risk of developing type-2 diabetes by as much as 31%. The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2006, involved following 37,183 healthy middle-aged women for an average of 10 years. The women were asked to complete questionnaires on how frequently they consumed 130 common food products.
Over the course of the study 1,603 women developed type-2 diabetes. Women in the highest 20% for dairy consumption (2.9 or more servings a day) were 32% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes than women in the lowest 20% for dairy consumption (less than 0.85 servings a day).
Low fat dairy products such as skim milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt led to the biggest reductions in type-2 diabetes risk. Those in the highest 20% for low fat dairy consumption (2 or more servings a day) were 31% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those in the lowest 20% for low fat dairy consumption (0.27 servings or less per day). There was no association between type-2 diabetes and the consumption of high fat diary products such as whole milk, cream, ice-cream, and butter.
The graph below shows the risk of type-2 diabetes for different levels of dairy consumption in the study.
Specific dairy foods that were associated with a reduction in type-2 diabetes were yogurt (18% diabetes reduction in people who consumed two or more servings a week), and cottage cheese (14% diabetes reduction in people consuming two or more servings per week).
Women who had no history of diabetes appeared to benefit from dairy consumption to a greater extent than women with a family history of diabetes.
The researchers concluded that: “A dietary pattern that incorporates higher low-fat dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged or older women.”
It s thought that specific fatty acids found in dairy products known as conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) may be responsible for the beneficial effects of dairy foods. Researchers were successfully able to treat diabetes in rats using these CLA’s. The fatty acids may also help reduce cholesterol levels and prevent some forms of cancer such as colon cancer.
Dairy products are also rich in calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium which may also play a role in the prevention of type-2 diabetes.
While this study focused on women only, other studies have produced similar findings in men. A study, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine involving over 40,000 men, found that type-2 diabetes risk dropped by 9% for each 1 serving increase in dairy intake per day.
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