It’s no health secret to be sure: dairy is a critical food group for maintaining healthy bones. A new study identified exactly how this happens, which dairy products are best, and what dairy best protects against. Let’s take a look.
Affiliated with Harvard Medical School, researchers found that milk and yogurt, specifically, are linked with higher bone mineral density—that would be in the hips, but not in the spine. On the other hand, cream may do the opposite: actually being linked with having weaker bones overall. The study, published in Archives of Osteoporosis, shows that not all dairy products are the same when you consider bone strength.
Dairy foods have many important nutrients for bone health, not just calcium. But cream and foods like ice cream have lower levels of these nutrients and have higher levels of fat and sugar. In this study, stronger bones were achieved with three servings of milk and yogurt per day. The results were not clear about cheese, which varies considerably in terms of fat, sodium, and nutrient content.
The results are gleaned from a food frequency questionnaire done by 3,200 people, whose dairy intake was compared with bone mineral density measurement. They were predominantly middle-aged men and women. Choosing low-fat milk or yogurt over cream can increase your intake of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, while limiting your intake of saturated fats.
Past studies suggest that dairy products contain more than one beneficial nutrient (like magnesium and vitamin D), and for this reason, certain dairy products may contribute towards maintaining healthier bones. It helps support the idea that proper nutrition can combat osteoporosis and fractures.
As it stands, osteoporosis strikes 44 million Americans—half of those over the age of 50. Another 34 million Americans have low bone density. About 25% of people who suffer a hip fracture die within a year of the injury.
You can help yourself and combat all of this by choosing foods wisely.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Is Bone Density Really Linked to Dairy Consumption?
Sahni, S., et al., “Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study,” Archives of Osteoporosis February 2013.