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Nutrition News: Yogurt and Your Colon

Charlyn Fargo on

Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, just might be one of those foods you want to always have in your refrigerator. Granted, it can be tricky picking the best one, but in general, a good Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium and low in fat. Look for a yogurt with 13 to 15 grams of protein, less than 7 grams of sugar and less than 6 grams of fat.

Yogurt works for breakfast -- with fresh fruit and granola or flax mixed in, or in a smoothie. It's also a great choice for a snack or to eat after a workout to replenish your muscles. Have a recipe that calls for sour cream? Replace it with plain Greek yogurt to cut calories and boost calcium.

Men may want to include Greek yogurt in their diet. A study conducted at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston found an association between yogurt consumption and a lower risk of polyps in the colon (adenomas). It's a big study worth considering. Xiaobin Zheng and colleagues analyzed information concerning diets and adenoma formation in the case of 32,606 men (enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study) and 55,743 women (in the Nurses' Health Study). Participants shared lifestyle and dietary habits every four years, including how much yogurt they ate.

The study found men who had two or more servings of yogurt per week were 19% less likely to develop precancerous growths in the bowel (adenomas) compared with men who reported eating no yogurt at all. Researchers think it may be due to the good bacteria that yogurt helps create in the bowels (probiotics), and yogurt may have anti-inflammatory effects on the colon.

It's interesting that the same lower risk of adenomas and yogurt consumption did not hold true for women. More research is needed into that. That's not going to stop me from keeping yogurt in the fridge, nor should it you, even if you're a woman. Yogurt has so many good health benefits it's worth stocking up on.

Q and A

 

Q: What are empty calories?

A: Empty calories are calories we get from solid fats or added sugars in food and drinks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These fats and sugars add few or no nutrients and are only added to foods to make them more appealing. According to the USDA, some foods and drinks that contain the most empty calories include bacon, cake, cheese, cookies, doughnuts, energy drinks, fruit drinks, hot dogs, ice cream, pastries, pizza, ribs, sausages, soda, sports drinks. While small amounts of empty calories are OK, eating too many is unhealthy and can cause weight gain, according to the USDA.

RECIPE

If you're trying to beat the heat this summer, try this strawberry watermelon slushie. It's blender-friendly and guaranteed to refresh on a hot day.

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