Yogurt can be a great nutrient-dense breakfast option or an easy snack. It is low in carbohydrates, meaning it won’t cause blood sugar spikes in people with diabetes. There may even be additional benefits for people with diabetes.
What Research Shows
Fermented foods, such as yogurt, contain good bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to improve gut health. Research on gut health is ongoing, but gut bacteria and overall health could play a factor in a number of health conditions, including obesity and diabetes.
Recent research shows that yogurt consumption might be associated with lower levels of glucose and insulin resistance, and lower systolic blood pressure. Another study found a potential link between regular yogurt consumption and a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. These studies are encouraging, but more research is needed to determine what link, if any, exists between yogurt and type 2 diabetes.
What Makes Yogurt Great
Most dairy products are low on the glycemic index. This makes them ideal for people with diabetes. To get the most out of your yogurt, check the labels before you purchase. If you want the gut benefits from the probiotics, choose a yogurt that contains live and active cultures. Also pay attention to the nutrition facts. Many yogurts have added sugars. Look for yogurts with high protein content and low carbohydrates, such as unflavored Greek yogurt. Sugar content among brands, and even among flavors within the same brand, can vary drastically, so check labels closely.
Carbohydrates By Yogurt Type
|Yogurt Type (6 ounces)||Carbohydrates||Sugar|
|plain Greek yogurt||6-8 grams||4-8 grams|
|flavored Greek yogurt||16-22 grams||12-18 grams|
|plain yogurt||11-15 grams||10-12 grams|
|vanilla yogurt||22-33 grams||21-28 grams|
Data provided by Sonya Angelone, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., a nutrition expert and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
What to Watch
Calories and carbohydrates can also hide in extra toppings such as candies, nuts, and granola. These can contribute to blood sugar increases. You’re better off choosing your favorite plain yogurt product and adding in your desired toppings yourself. That way, you can control the serving size and added sugars. Try a combination of fresh blueberries and sliced almonds, or add ground flaxseed and sliced strawberries.
As for artificial sweeteners, the jury is still out on how beneficial or harmful they may be. While they were originally marketed as a way to help people curb their sweet tooth and manage their weight, recent research suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually promote weight gain.
If you want to steer clear of artificial sweeteners, fresh fruit continues to be a more natural and healthy option for sweetening your yogurt. You can even mix in unsweetened applesauce as a quick way to naturally sweeten your plain yogurt.
As with most things, moderation is the key. The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently recommends that adults get three servings of dairy each day. Unsweetened plain or Greek yogurt could be a great way for people with diabetes to fulfill one or even two of these daily recommended servings, as well as to get a good dose of calcium and probiotics.