Yogurt is one of those foods that you can enjoy at any time of the day; like a hearty breakfast, a mouth-watering midday snack or even a tasty dessert to end the night. And as good as it may taste plain, you can add toppings to yogurts to make them more nutritious. Since yogurt is packed with bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, it’s good for protecting fragile bones.
That being said, it’s important that when thinking about what to put in your yogurt, you choose ingredients that emphasize the benefits of yogurt. If you’re looking for more foods to help prevent your bones from aging, you might want to consider one in particular. According Emma Laing, PhD, RDNnational spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says the best yogurt combination to prevent your bones from aging is prune yogurt.
Dr. Laing says yogurt combined with prunes can strengthen bones.
“Recent research has shown that eating a small number of prunes (i.e. dried plums) each day is helpful in maintaining bone strength,” says Dr. Laing. “Prunes contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K along with other bioactive compounds that have been linked to preventing bone loss.”
How to Add Prunes and Bone-Strengthening Foods to Your Yogurt
Although prunes aren’t everyone’s number one fruit choice, they do offer a number of benefits. Therefore, it is worth trying to incorporate them into your yogurt. As a recipe option, Dr. Laing suggests adding cooked prunes to a bowl of plain yogurt. Then sweeten the bowl with honey or a sugar substitute and add cinnamon to taste. Then you can enjoy it as a nutritious breakfast or snack.
If you don’t seem to like adding prunes to your yogurt, Dr. Laing suggests a second option: other fruits!
“Many fruits contain bone-strengthening nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamin C and have been linked to preventing skeletal fractures,” she says.
For another recipe idea, Dr. Laing suggests taking a mason jar or tall glass and creating a colorful fruit and yogurt parfait.
“Layer plain yogurt with whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand, such as strawberries, bananas, blueberries, papaya, kiwi, or pineapple,” recommends Dr. Laing. “Top the granola parfait with crunchy whole grains or other nuts or seeds to provide extra protein and magnesium.
Adding any of these ingredients (with or without the crunch) can also be blended into a smoothie. Dr. Laing recommends adding fresh or frozen spinach to your smoothie for extra amounts of vitamins A, C, K, B vitamins, calcium, potassium and magnesium. To create a smoother drinkable yogurt, you can also add milk, water or 100% juice when mixing.
For more recipes and ideas, you can visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
Yogurt, in general, is a great food to add to your diet.
Whichever option you choose, Dr. Laing touts the benefits of adding yogurt to your diet.
“Yogurt is a versatile food on the market,” she says. “You can find it in many flavors. Also in regular fat, low-fat, and fat-free form. And, in frozen, chilled, drinkable, or squeeze form.”
She goes on to say that, like many dairy products, certain brands of yogurt can be excellent sources of calcium. Plus, they can be loaded with protein and other “bone-friendly” nutrients.
“Protein, in particular, is an important macronutrient for bone and muscle health,” says Dr. Laing. “Because muscle has a profound influence on bone, nutrients that support muscle also support bone and vice versa.”
According to Dr. Laing, yogurts like Greek, Icelandic, Australian, and French varieties of yogurt are high in protein. Meanwhile, plant-based yogurts are good options for bone health when fortified with vitamin D and calcium.
The benefits of yogurt don’t stop there…
“Yogurt is unique in that it contains ‘good bacteria,’ which can contribute to the balance and diversity of bacteria in your gut,” says Dr. Laing. “These good bacteria have been shown to support bone and immune health, among other health benefits.”
For example, Dr. Laing explains that gut bacteria help digest food, destroy harmful microorganisms, and can even produce vitamins.
“The gut microbiome has been studied as a potential regulator of bone health,” she says. “Researchers have linked probiotics in yogurt to improved calcium balance and decreased bone loss.”
Otherwise, how to prevent your bones from aging
“A dietary pattern that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods can support bone health,” says Dr. Laing. “This is in addition to weight-bearing physical activities and the use of medications as prescribed.”
According to Dr. Laing, these are the foods recommended by the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation, as well as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- Dairy products (like low-fat milk and yogurt)
- Fish (like sardines and canned salmon)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D (such as milk, soy foods, juices, and whole-grain cereals)
“These foods contain nutrients that have been shown to benefit the musculoskeletal system, says Dr. Laing. “This includes protein, vitamins A, C, D and K, B vitamins, calcium , magnesium and potassium.
Finally, when it comes to supporting optimal bone health, Dr. Laing suggests finding a nutrition expert who can meet your needs. Indeed, nutritional recommendations vary from one individual to another depending on various factors. This includes age genetics, physical activity habits, and medication use.
“Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you navigate appropriate food sources and the need for supplements if needed,” says Dr. Laing.