Rich in calcium, protein and friendly bacteria, yogurt makes a healthy addition to your diet. But because it's a source of carbs and sugar, you may be worried about how it affects your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes or concerns about fluctuations in blood sugar. Most yogurts have a minimal effect on blood sugar and may actually help blood sugar control.
Yogurt and Glycemic Index
The glycemic index, or GI, is a system that ranks how carb-containing foods affect blood sugar. Foods with a low GI of 55 or less take longer to digest and absorb, causing a small, gradual rise in blood sugar. Foods with a high GI of 70 or more digest quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar. While the GI in yogurt varies depending on what is added to it, most yogurts have a low GI, averaging around 33.
Improved Blood Glucose in Rats
Eating yogurt may improve blood sugar, according to a 2006 study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food." This was an animal study that tested the effects of yogurt on rats fed a high-sugar diet. The study found that glucose levels were lower in rats supplemented with yogurt on their high-sugar diet compared to the control group of rats fed only a high-sugar diet. The researchers suggested that yogurt may be helpful in managing blood sugar for those with diabetes. However, while yogurt is a healthy addition to your diet, more research is necessary before claims can be made.
Yogurt contains a naturally occurring sugar called lactose, but some brands of yogurt add sugar and fruit to improve taste and sweetness. This increases sugar content and may affect glucose levels. If you're concerned about yogurt and glucose levels, eat plain yogurt or yogurt sweetened with a sugar-substitute. In addition to helping with blood sugar control, these types of yogurts also tend to be lower in calories. Also, look for low-fat or nonfat yogurt to limit saturated fat and calorie intake.
Make It Yourself
If you have a hard time eating plain yogurt and artificial sweeteners don't appeal to you, make your own sweetened and flavored yogurt. Add fresh strawberries or blueberries to a container of nonfat plain yogurt for natural sweetness. Or try lemon or vanilla extract for flavor. You can also mix plain nonfat yogurt with unsweetened whole-grain cereal for some crunch. Plain yogurt also makes a good savory dip for carrots and celery sticks.
- Dairy Council of California: Health Benefits of Yogurt
- Harvard School of Public Health: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Effect of Skim Milk and Dahi (Yogurt) on Blood Glucose, Insulin and Lipid Profile in Rats Fed with High Fructose Diet
- American Diabetes Association: Glycemic Index and Diabetes
- Glycemic Index: Yoghurt
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Why Does Yogurt Have So Much Sugar?