In a large study, which examined an as yet unexplained link between some dairy products and a lowered risk of diabetes, researchers at the University of Cambridge found that risk was reduced by 28 per cent in people who ate a large amount of yoghurt to those who ate none.
Dairy products an important source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and the reduced risk also applied to other low-fat, fermented products such as fromage frais and low fat cottage cheeses.
While the study could not prove a conclusive causal link between eating dairy and lower diabetes risk, the association was strong. Scientists suspect that fermented dairy products are beneficial because of the probiotic bacteria, as well as a special form of vitamin K produced during the fermentation process - however the cause is not fully understood.
The study compared the dietary habits of 750 people who developed type 2 diabetes with those of a randomly selected cohort of 3,500 people who took part in a wide-ranging diet study in Norfolk. Benefits associated with yoghurt were seen in people who ate on average four and a half standard pots of yoghurt per week.
The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for Diabetes.