The compilation of literature presented in this book characterizes yogurt as a dairy food that is rich in high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals, as well as functional peptides, lipids, and lactic acid bacteria. The combination of these nutrients and ferments creates a food matrix that may confer beneficial properties to this dairy product, which contribute to differentiating it from its base ingredient, milk. The role of yogurt as part of a balanced diet is evidenced by its inclusion by health authorities in food-based guidelines across the globe and regular yogurt consumption contributes to the intake of key micronutrients such as calcium and potassium, which are often consumed in suboptimal quantities (Webb et al. 2014). Based on yogurt’s nutrient composition and according to numerous nutrient profiling tools, it scores highly as a nutrient-dense food. Sweetened whole-fat yogurt, however, is often given a lower nutrient density score due its saturated fat and added sugar content, even though it is rich in nutrients. Yogurt’s nutrient profile makes it a very attractive dairy food that can be promoted as part of a balanced diet; a single 125 g portion of low-fat fruit yogurt can provide significant proportions of recommended dietary allowances for calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. Furthermore, yogurt is a food that has been consistently identified within healthy dietary patterns among diverse populations (Camilleri et al. 2013, Cormier et al. 2016, Kashino et al. 2015), and its intake is often associated with healthy lifestyle factors such as physical activity (D’Addezio et al. 2015). These associations make yogurt a potential indicator for both healthy diets and healthy lifestyles. With regard to the effects of yogurt consumption on cardiometabolic diseases and other health conditions, the summary of evidence presented in this compilation indicates that:

The benefits of yogurt consumption on lactose digestion have been established. However, more research is needed to investigate the effects of yogurt on other digestive ailments (e.g., diarrhea).

There is consistent epidemiological evidence that yogurt consumption reduces type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk, as revealed by multiple meta-analyses of numerous large, high-quality prospective cohort studies. There is little known about any mechanisms responsible for the beneficial associations seen in observational studies.

Based on individual observational studies, there is promising evidence for yogurt consumption with regard to weight maintenance and reduced adiposity, although more research is needed. In particular, the impacts of replacing high-fat, high-energy snacks with yogurt and the intake of yogurt components (e.g., calcium) on energy balance warrant further investigation.

There is growing but still insufficient evidence on the relationships between yogurt consumption and hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Future studies investigating such relationships need to distinguish yogurt from other fermented milks and from other low-fat (or whole-fat) dairy products 180to build a consistent, evidence-based case for the cardiovascular benefits of yogurt. A better understanding of the bioactive components in yogurt that may act on blood pressure and the cardiovascular system is also needed.

Current evidence for the impact of yogurt consumption on metabolic syndrome is mixed and future studies need to use more consistent diagnostic criteria and to compare similar age groups.

No direct evidence links yogurt consumption to improved bone health or a reduced risk of osteoporosis; however, yogurt is a source of dietary nutrients that are important for bone mass development and maintenance (e.g., protein and calcium).

There is inconsistent or inadequate evidence to link yogurt consumption to the protection of colorectal and breast cancers, or to the increased risk of prostate cancer.

There is insufficient evidence to draw any clear conclusions on the relationships between yogurt and immune reactions, or allergy and atopic disease.