By Alexandra Sifferlin
November 25, 2014

Eating a daily serving of yogurt is associated with an 18% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, says a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Some research has suggested that calcium, magnesium and fatty acids found dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, which develops when the body stops making insulin. So researchers from Harvard School of Public Health took a closer look at the possible relationship between yogurt consumption and diabetes, hypothesizing that yogurt’s probiotics and antioxidants may have a positive effect.

Researchers at looked at data from three cohorts of people who had their health and lifestyles followed. At the start of the studies, the participants filled out a questionnaire about their diets and history of chronic diseases. Every two years, researchers followed up with participants and updated the data.

MORE: Yogurt May Lower Your Blood Pressure

The researchers did not find that dairy consumption in general affected diabetes risk, but they did find that yogurt was specifically associated with a lower risk of developing the disease. With further calculations, the researchers concluded that consuming one serving of yogurt per day was associated with an 18% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers were not able to determine exactly what was providing the health benefit, and it’s likely that maintaining a healthy diet in general has a positive effect on type 2 diabetes risk, considering weight gain is one of the most prominent risk factors for the disease. More research is needed—but not before making yogurt a dietary staple for health.

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