When you say “yogurt” and “bones,” the mineral calcium should pop into your head. However, there are more nutrients found in yogurt that are needed for bone health. That’s why cow’s milk Greek yogurt tops the list as the best yogurt for strong bones. Find out what Greek yogurt has to offer to help keep your bones healthy.
Nutrients your bones need
To keep your bones strong and healthy, the nutrients your body needs include calcium, vitamin D, protein, and magnesium.
If you don’t take in enough calcium from food (or supplements), your body will take the calcium it needs from your bones which weakens them. Vitamin D is needed in order for calcium to be absorbed in the intestines, while magnesium helps regulate the balance of calcium and vitamin D. There is also good evidence that phosphorus, vitamin A, and potassium can help. Phosphorus helps neutralize acidic foods that can be harmful to your bones, some potassium salts neutralize acids that come from the body’s metabolic processes, and vitamin A influences the building and breaking down of bone.
Cow’s milk Greek yogurt provides many of the nutrients listed above.
How does Greek yogurt affect your bones?
Greek yogurt is made by straining traditional yogurt to remove the liquid whey resulting in a thicker, creamier, tarter yogurt. Compared to traditional yogurt (which is also super healthy!), Greek yogurt contains twice the amount of protein at 15 grams per serving and about 14% less lactose (helpful for those with lactose intolerance). It also provides 170 milligrams of calcium per serving and is brimming with live, active cultures that help with gut health.
In addition to protein and calcium, Greek yogurt contains significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, all of which play a role in bone health.
Plus, Greek yogurt has a fantastic tangy flavor and thick texture which makes it delicious to eat topped with fruit, blended into a smoothie or in a parfait or it can be used as a substitute for butter, buttermilk, and other higher fat ingredients. These healthier Vanilla Lovers Cupcakes substitutes part of the butter for Greek yogurt, while this Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Peppers, and Olives uses Greek yogurt to substitute for part of the mayo.
How much should I consume?
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of milk and dairy foods (like yogurt) every day.
HAS 2017 published study found a link between the consumption of milk and dairy foods (including yogurt) and a reduced risk of hip fractures in older adults. It should be noted that only cow’s milk yogurt and soy yogurt are part of the dairy group due to the numerous nutrients they contain. As such, other plant-based “yogurts” do not count towards your three daily servings of dairy because they lack many of the nutrients mentioned above.
You certainly can consume three ½ cup portions of Greek yogurt daily, but you can also mix and match your cow’s milk, soy beverage, and cheese to meet the three daily servings to get the nutrients you need to maintain proper bone health.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN
Toby Amidor is an award winning dietitian and wall street journal best-selling cookbook author who believes healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. Read more