As if you didn’t already love yogurt enough, now there’s more reason to dig into this delicious, creamy food at breakfast or for a snack: People who eat yogurt consume better-balanced diets than those who forgo it, Tufts University researchers say.

A recent study of more than 6,500 adults found that those individuals who included yogurt in their diets on a regular basis had overall healthier diets than those who didn’t. Surprised? I’m not, but what I am curious about is what came first: the chicken or the egg? Did these people start eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and then decide to add the yogurt, or did it happen the reverse way? Or maybe even all at once?

I guess you can say that, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Because what does matter is that they are consuming more key nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and B12, in their diets than those who don’t consume the creamy snack. Calcium is so key for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis, potassium is an important factor in controlling our blood pressure, and magnesium may help prevent migraines. Plus a deficiency in B12 can lead to anemia, which may cause you to be weak and tired.

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The study also revealed that the non-yogurt individuals were consuming more processed foods, refined grains, and beer; maybe closer to how a lot of the guys in our lives prefer to eat.

It’s interesting that this study was completed in 2005, before the huge boom of Greek yogurt intake in the United States. If conducted today, the researchers might also find that those who enjoyed yogurt on a regular basis consumed a little more protein in their diet, especially for breakfast and snacks. An average 6-ounce serving of plain low-fat Greek yogurt contains 17 grams of the filling, muscle-building nutrient, plus 200 milligrams of calcium for only 130 calories.

Trust me though, if you don’t like the taste of Greek yogurt, then by all means eat regular yogurt. Even though Greek has more protein and less sugar, regular low-fat yogurt has about 100 milligrams more calcium, and all the other key nutrients. Also, if you don’t enjoy eating plain yogurt and flavoring with fresh fruit, flavored yogurts can still be a healthy choice.

RELATED: If you’re a Greek freak, you’ll devour these 10 healthy recipes using Greek yogurt.

What is great about yogurt is that it is a very easy food to fit into your diet. Try some of my favorites way to use nonfat plain yogurt:
1. Instead of mayonnaise in a salad, such as tuna, egg, chicken, or potato.
2. As a perfect baked potato topping instead of butter and sour cream.
3. A healthy alternative for whipped cream on a slice of pie (small slice, that is).
4. Good, old stand-by for a quick breakfast, mixed with a high-fiber cereal and fresh berries.
5. In a smoothie, providing protein that many recipes lack.

How do you enjoy yogurt?

 

Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., is a registered dietitian, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self, and SHAPE, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio. Follow her on Twitter @kerigans or on Facebook.

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