Study: Moderate Dairy Consumption Could Decrease Risk of Type 2 Diabetes


New research suggests that 200 g/day of milk can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 10%.

Researchers have observed that certain dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Low-fat dairy products and yogurt were shown to have the most positive association, whereas T2D risk increased with a diet of red meat and processes meats.

“Dairy products are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and other bioactive compounds which may favorably influence glucose metabolism—the processing of sugar by the body,” said Annalisa Giosuè, MD, of the Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery at the University of Naples Federico II in Naples, Italy, in a press release.

T2D is one of the largest diet-related causes of death, Giosuè said in the press release. T2D develops when the pancreas can no longer make enough of the hormone insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. It can also occur when the insulin produced by the pancreas is not fully functional—this is known as low insulin sensitivity. Complications of T2D include heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss, and serious circulatory issues.

T2D preventative guidelines recommend a diet of many plant-based foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and olive oil. The guidelines may advise limiting animal products, but some animal proteins are more nutritious than others.

Giosuè conducted a review of 13 existent meta-analyses to study the risk of developing T2D diabetes by eating different animal-based foods. Animal products include total meat, red meat (beef, lamb, and pork), processed meat (bacon, sausages, and deli meat), white meat (chicken, turkey), fish, total dairy, full-fat dairy, low-fat dairy, milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs.

According to the study findings, more than 100 g/day of total meat increased the risk of developing T2D by 20%, and the same serving size of red meat increased the risk to 22%. At 50 g/day, processed meat increased risk of T2D by 30%, although 50 g/day of white meat was only associated with a 4% increased risk.

White meat has a lower fat content than red and processed meats, which means that it also has less heme iron, Giosuè explained. Heme iron may cause chronic low-level inflammation and oxidative stress that induces insulin sensitivity. Additionally, many processed meats have compounds that damage insulin-producing cells, including nitrates and sodium.

The findings suggest that dairy may not worsen the development of T2D. In fact, 100 g/day of yogurt was associated with a 6% reduced risk.

“Probiotics are also known to exert beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, which may explain why we found that a regular consumption of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes,” Giosuè said in the press release.

Further, 200 g/day of milk decreased the risk by 10%, and low-fat dairy by 3%. Additionally, 30 g/day of cheese had no observed effect, nor did 100 g/day of fish.

“Although more well-conducted research is needed to achieve high quality of evidence required to give solid recommendations, our extensive review of the scientific evidence shows that regular consumption of dairy foods in moderate amounts, especially low-fat products, milk, and yogurt, may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes,” Giosuè concluded in the press release.


Dairy products in moderate amounts may protect against type 2 diabetes – but red and processed meat raise risk, Italian research suggests. EurekAlert! September 15, 2022. Accessed on September 16, 2022.

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