The overarching theme of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA or Dietary Guidelines), released January 2016, is a shift toward healthier eating patterns in order to “promote overall health and help prevent chronic disease.” 1 An eating pattern comprises everything an individual habitually eats and drinks, which has a combined effect on health. 1 Per the 2015 DGA, a successful, healthy eating pattern requires a shift to consuming more nutrient-dense foods, i.e., foods that contain key nutrients while also avoiding excess calories and sodium. 1

Yogurt is a nutrient-dense food

The new Dietary Guidelines suggest that one way to shift toward a healthier eating pattern and start consuming more nutrient-dense foods, is to consume more dairy products, such as nonfat or lowfat yogurt. 1 Nonfat and lowfat yogurts are considered nutrient-dense foods because most contain nutrients lacking in the American diet, including calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Compared with other dairy products, like some cheeses, nonfat and lowfat yogurts are lower in saturated fat and sodium, nutrients over-consumed by the average American.

The recommended shift toward eating nutrient-dense, nonfat and lowfat yogurts represents a move toward a healthier eating pattern:

  • Adding one serving of nonfat or lowfat yogurt per day would help most Americans move closer to the recommended 3 servings per day.

  • Most nutrient-dense dairy products contain nutrients of public health concern, including calcium and vitamin D.

  • The American public does not currently meet recommended intake levels of these nutrients, which play an important role in growth and bone development.

3 Tips for Fitting Yogurt Into A Healthy Eating Pattern 1

  • Choose nonfat or lowfat yogurt instead of cheese. Most cheeses contain more saturated fat and sodium and less potassium, calcium, and vitamin D than yogurt (or milk).

  • Choose yogurt as a snack. Choose a dip made with nonfat or lowfat yogurt and enjoy with veggies or fruit in place of typical, less healthy, snack choices.

  • Use yogurt as an ingredient in prepared dishes. Nonfat or lowfat yogurt can be substituted in place of sour cream, heavy cream, mayonnaise, oil, butter, and eggs in dishes such as salad dressings, spreads, marinades, sauces, dips, and baked goods.

RECIPE: Cold Cucumber & Yogurt Soup

As the temperature rises outside, keep things cool with this refreshing cucumber and yogurt soup. This simple, delicious recipe provides protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 and calcium.

Click here for more tips and recipes for you and your patients

Yogurt consumption can support other Dietary Guidelines recommendations

Yogurt also can help Americans meet other recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. The DGA recommend a shift to consuming more fruits and vegetables.1 Yogurt can help increase the intake of fruits and vegetables when paired together in smoothies, dips, and dressings. In addition, the Dietary Guidelines remind us that there are many ways to achieve a healthy eating pattern, including following a healthy vegetarian eating pattern. 1 Most yogurts are a good source of high-quality protein and can fit into a vegetarian diet. Finally, in tandem with key recommendations related to a healthy eating pattern, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines note “Americans should aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.” 1High rates of overweight and obesity (over 2/3 of adults and nearly 1/3 of children and youth) are associated with a high incidence of chronic disease and high healthcare costs. 1, 2 Frequent yogurt consumption as part of a healthy dietary pattern was associated with less weight gain over time. This study compared consumption of different foods, including yogurt, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains among more than 120, 000 US women and men and showed that consumption of these foods was associated with less weight gain over time, with yogurt showing the best results. Other forms of dairy, including low fat or non fat milk, had no measurable association with less weight gain. 2

Nutrient-dense yogurt plays an important role in shifting toward a healthier eating pattern to promote overall health.


1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015. 8th Edition, Washington,DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2015.

2. Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364:2392-2404.

POSTED ON: Jan 01, 2016

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