When evaluating your diet, calories aren't the only factor to consider. Also worth noting is the glycemic index of your food, which indicates the speed at which a particular food raises your blood sugar. High-glycemic foods cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar, while those with a low glycemic index cause a slower increase. Enjoying a bowl of plain yogurt won't cause a rapid blood sugar response.
The GI of Plain Yogurt
Foods with a glycemic index of 55 or less are considered low, and plain yogurt has a glycemic index of 14. By comparison, fruit yogurt has a higher glycemic index due to the added sugar and the fruit in the yogurt, but still ranks on the low end of the scale at 36.
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Combine Yogurt and Fiber
Eating plain yogurt and other foods with a low glycemic index is ideal, as a diet heavy in high-glycemic foods can cause not only high blood sugar, but can also increase your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. If you don't favor the taste of plain yogurt, pair it with a high-fiber food such as an apple. The apple provides sweetness, while its fiber helps fill you up without causing a rapid blood sugar increase. High-fiber foods have low glycemic indexes because fiber slows the absorption of the food.
Protein and Other Benefits
Plain yogurt is also a source of protein, which plays an important role in functions such as cell growth. The protein in plain yogurt varies according to its type. Plain, low-fat yogurt has about 8.9 grams of protein per 6-ounce container. Plain Greek yogurt is higher in protein, with about 17.3 grams of protein per 6-ounce container. Adult men and women need 56 and 46 grams of protein, respectively, per day. Yogurt is also a source of vitamins, minerals such as calcium, and probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that benefit the body.
Glycemic Index of Dairy Products
Plain yogurt has a lower glycemic index than many other dairy products. Its glycemic index is lower than milk; whole milk has a glycemic index of 30 and skim milk has a glycemic index of 32. When manufacturers add sugar to other dairy products, the glycemic index quickly increases. For example, custard and ice cream have rankings of 43 and 60.
- DiabetesNet.com: Glycemic Index
- Eat Right Ontario: Getting to Know the Glycemic Index
- MedlinePlus: Protein in the Diet
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Yogurt, Plain, Low Fat, 12 Grams Protein Per 8 Ounce
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Nonfat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Montignac Method: The Factors that Modify Glycemic Indexes
- Canadian Living: The Health Benefits of Yogurt