A panel of experts met today to address the health and lifestyle attributes of
live and active culture (LAC) yogurt. Included among the group, convened by The
National Yogurt Association (NYA), was parenting and family nutrition expert Dr.
William Sears, who emphasized the role yogurt can play in helping to shape healthful
eating habits among children.
"Parents are under the impression that they need to provide their children
with a low-fat and low-sugar diet. That’s a nutritional myth,” said Dr. Sears.
"The key is to offer your children a steady diet of nutrient-dense ‘grow’ foods,
like live and active culture yogurt, which deliver needed nutrients and appeal
to young taste buds.”
Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs
at the NYA, provided an overview of scientific research on the health potential
of live and active culture yogurt. Among the health attributes discussed were
- Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, which is critical for bone growth,
development and maintenance at every stage of life, especially for children.
It plays a significant role in the prevention of osteoporosis, which afflicts
one out of two women and one out of eight men.
- Yogurt is a good source of protein. In fact, an average eight-ounce serving
provides approximately 20 percent of the Daily Value for protein.
- A report from Tufts University researcher Simin Meydani, published in The
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, points to even broader potential health
benefits associated with eating live and active culture yogurt, including
potential benefit to the immune system. Given the right circumstances, yogurt
may help protect the intestinal tract.
- For people who are lactose intolerant, studies have shown that the live
and active cultures found in yogurt permit the more than one quarter of American
adults who cannot tolerate other dairy products to enjoy yogurt.
- Vaginal yeast infections affect nearly 12 million women each year. Research
suggests that when eaten regularly, yogurt that contains l. Acidophilus may
decrease yeast growth and infection in certain individuals by as much as three-fold.
- As many as 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension,
which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Yogurt
delivers calcium, potassium and magnesium — three nutrients that have been
shown to reduce hypertension. Studies also show that a calcium-rich diet helps
regulate blood pressure in women during and after pregnancy.
Garfield also announced that the NYA is in the initial stages of commissioning
a new scientific research review concerning the nutrient digestibility of yogurt.
Making the case that women’s nutrition was largely a matter of personal choice
was Dr. Michele Cyr, Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine,
Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Associate Professor of Medicine
at Brown University School of Medicine. Dr. Cyr is co-author of The Complete
Book of Menopause — Every Woman’s Guide to Good Health.
Dr. Cyr singled out osteoporosis as one of the greatest health risks for women,
especially as women’s life expectancy increases. She said the earlier a woman
begins a nutritional plan to prevent osteoporosis, the better.
"One of the easiest ways to help prevent this debilitating disease is by making
yogurt part of your daily diet. An eight-ounce serving provides approximately
400 mg of calcium. The recommended daily calcium intake is 1000 mg for pre-menopausal
women and 1500 mg for post-menopausal women,” said Dr. Cyr.
The NYA is the national non-profit trade organization representing manufacturers
and marketers of live and active culture yogurt products, as well as suppliers
to the industry. Its purpose is to sponsor research about the health attributes
of yogurt with live and active cultures and serve as an information source to
the trade and consumers.