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Yogurt isn't the boon to health nutritionists claim it is

"The regular consumption of yogurt was not linked to health-related quality of life," lead author Esther Lopez-Garcia said.

By Brooks Hays
Yogurt isn't the boon to health nutritionists claim it is
Yogurt isn't the boon to mental and physical health some nutritionists claim it is. New research suggests no link between regular yogurt consumption and improved health. Photo by auremar/Shutterstock

MADRID, April 21 (UPI) -- It's got calcium, protein and probiotics. What's not to love? Yogurt has been prominently featured in a variety of nutritional guidelines and dietary recommendations, as well as prescribed as a natural antidote to a number of health problems.

But a new study out of Spain found no link between regular yogurt consumption and improved health outcomes. Those who ate yogurt on regular basis were not any more or less likely to experience disease, disability or disorder.

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The study, led by researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid, looked at results from a short survey about dietary habits and factors related to a person's health-related quality of life (HRQL). In analyzing the responses of 4,445 Spanish adults over 3 1/2 years, researchers found no correlation between yogurt consumption and improved physical health.

"The regular consumption of yogurt was not linked to health-related quality of life," lead author Esther Lopez-Garcia said in a press release. "For future research more specific instruments must be used which may increase the probability of finding a potential benefit of this food."

The new research was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Researchers also found no link between yogurt and improved health for those who don't smoke and eat a Mediterranean diet -- thus eliminating the chance that poor health choices might disguise yogurt's benefits among the general population.

"In comparison with people that did not eat yogurt, those who ate this dairy product regularly did not display any significant improvement in their score on the physical component of quality of life, and although there was a slight improvement mentally, this was not statistically significant," Lopez-Garcia added.

Yogurt has been heralded by a number of nutritionists, and while dairy is usually trumpeted as an ideal source of calcium -- essential for bone health -- most of the latest praise is based on the idea that yogurt provides beneficial micro-organisms (or probiotics).

A number of a previous studies have confirmed the importance of bacteria in the human gut in dictating positive health, both mental and physical. But the science remains murky on exactly which micro-organisms are helpful -- and whether or not foods like yogurt can deliver those good micro-organisms.

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