While it can sometimes be hard to define how much is "too much" of a certain food, it's healthier to follow a varied diet than to overdo it on a single type of food or nutrient. Eating too much yogurt does come with health risks, but some scientific studies have also shown that eating plenty of yogurt can be beneficial for women.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an 8-ounce container of plain, full-fat yogurt has about 140 calories, 8 grams of protein, 7.5 grams of fat and 11 grams of carbs in the form of naturally occurring sugar. The same amount of plain nonfat yogurt has 130 calories, 13 grams of protein, 0.5 gram of fat and 17.5 grams of carbs from sugar. Fruit-flavored, low-fat yogurt is higher in both calories and sugar, some of it added sugar, with 225 calories, 9 grams of protein, 2.6 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbs from sugar per 8-ounce container.
If you're eating lots of yogurt, between two and three containers daily, for example, it can add more than 500 calories and close to 100 grams of sugar to your diet every day -- a combination that can lead to unwanted weight gain and worsened heart health. Women may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular events if they eat large amounts of full-fat yogurt. Eight ounces of whole-milk yogurt contains almost 5 grams of saturated fat. The American Heart Association suggests that adults limit saturated fat consumption to no more than 7 percent of calories, as saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack, stroke or other heart conditions. Galactose, a type of sugar found in yogurt and produced from lactose, also has a potential association with ovarian cancer, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Yogurt and Weight
Women who are trying to lose or maintain weight may see more success by eating a lot of yogurt, despite the potential health risks. According to a study published in 2005 in the "International Journal of Obesity," adults who followed a "yogurt diet" for 12 weeks, in which they reduced daily calories and replaced some normal foods with yogurt, lost significantly more body fat and less muscle mass than subjects on a control diet. In another study, published in 2012 in the "Annals of Epidemiology," yogurt consumption was inversely associated with weight gain and waist circumference for both men and women in the long term.
Yogurt and You
Eating three or four servings of yogurt daily may affect you very differently than it would affect another woman. There are many factors that go into determining your overall health, including your age, weight, genetics, physical activity level and the rest of the foods you eat. Still, Harvard University health researchers recommend that women limit their dairy consumption to no more than two servings per day, since the potential risks of dairy, including the tie to ovarian cancer, can outweigh the potential advantages. Before you make any major changes to your eating plan, talk them over with your doctor.
- USDA: National Nutrient Database
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fats
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Milk and Prostate Cancer
- American Heart Association: Added Sugars
- Harvard School of Public Health: Food Pyramids and Plates -- What Should You Really Eat?
- International Journal of Obesity: Dairy Augmentation of Total and Central Fat Loss in Obese Subjects
- Annals of Epidemiology: Yogurt Consumption Is Associated With Longitudinal Changes of Body Weight and Waist Circumference