Full-Fat Yogurt and Diabetes: A Possible Blood Sugar Benefit

Some research suggests that certain fats in full-fat dairy may hold benefit for managing blood sugar.

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Updated on March 31, 2023.

If you like dairy, low-fat or nonfat yogurt are great additions to an overall diet plan. They're packed with muscle-building protein and bone-fortifying calcium and versatile enough to make for fast, healthy breakfasts, snacks, and desserts. While you are well-served avoiding the extra saturated fat in whole-milk yogurt, research suggests that the occasional indulgence could carry some benefits, too.

In a 20-year study, people with the highest blood levels of trans-palmitoleic acid—a type of fatty acid found in full-fat dairy products—were 60 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

A good trans fat?

Full-fat dairy is unlikely to become a recommended mainstay of most peoples' diets. But the research on trans-palmitoleic acid is interesting enough to suggest that occasional servings of whole-milk yogurt could have a place on your menu. Trans-palmitoleic acid is found in full-fat diary, and, although it's technically a trans fat, researchers think it behaves quite differently from the unhealthy kind formerly found in some processed foods.

These dairy-based trans-palmitoleic acids have not been linked to increased heart risks at all. In fact, in one study, people with higher blood levels of these fatty acids generally had better insulin sensitivity and lower levels of C-reactive protein—an inflammatory marker linked to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Moderation is key

Several other studies have linked dairy consumption to a lower risk of diabetes. And there could be other things in yogurt, cheese, and milk that benefit blood sugar levels. Still, this early research is no reason to load up your daily smoothie with full-fat dairy. If you do choose to enjoy the occasional creamy, full-fat treat, and you are watching your calorie and fat intake, just be sure to compensate by cutting back on other fatty foods in your diet.

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