Yogurt is one of those foods you can enjoy at any time of day; such as a hearty breakfast, an appealing midday snack, or even a tasty dessert to cap off the night. And as good as it can taste plain, you can add toppings to yogurts to make them more nutritious. Since yogurt is full of bone-strengthing nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, it's good to protect brittle bones.
With that being said, it's important that when you consider what to put in your yogurt, you choose ingredients that emphasize yogurt's benefits. If you're looking for more foods to help prevent your bones from aging, you may want to consider a particular one. According to Emma Laing, PhD, RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says the #1 best yogurt combination to prevent your bones from aging is yogurt with prunes.
Dr. Laing says that yogurt paired with prunes can pack a bone-strengthening punch.
"Recent research has shown that eating a small number of prunes (aka dried plums) each day is helpful for maintaining bone strength," says Dr. Laing. "Prunes contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K as well as other bioactive compounds that have been linked to preventing bone loss."
How to add prunes and bone-strengthing foods to your yogurt
Although prunes may not be everyone's number one fruit choice, they provide lots of benefits. Therefore, it's worth trying to incorporate them into your yogurt. As a recipe option, Dr. Laing suggests adding stewed 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 can't seem to enjoy adding prunes to your yogurt, Dr. Laing suggests a second option—other fruits!
"Many fruits contain bone-building nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C and have been linked to staving off skeletal fractures," she says.
For another recipe idea, Dr. Laing suggests grabbing a mason jar or tall glass and creating a colorful fruit and yogurt parfait.
"Layer plain yogurt with the fresh or frozen fruits you have on hand, like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, papaya, kiwi, or pineapples," Dr. Laing recommends. "Top the parfait with crunchy whole grain granola 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 bonus 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 blending.
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 might choose, Dr. Laing boasts the benefits of adding yogurt to your diet.
"Yogurt is a versatile food in the marketplace," she says. "You can find it in numerous flavors. Also as regular fat, low fat, and no fat options. And, as frozen, refrigerated, drinkable, or squeezable."
She continues to say that similar to many dairy products, certain brands of yogurt can be terrific sources of calcium. Plus, they can be packed with protein and other "bone-promoting" nutrients.
"Protein, in particular, is a macronutrient that is important for supporting both 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-style yogurt varieties 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 just stop there…
"Yogurt is unique in that it contains 'good bacteria,' which can help with the balance and diversity of bacteria in your gut," says Dr. Laing. "These good bacteria have been shown to support bone and immunological 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 found in yogurt to improved calcium balance and diminished bone loss."
How else to prevent your bones from aging
"An eating 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."
- Dairy (such as low-fat milk and yogurt)
- Fish (such as canned sardines and 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."
Lastly, when it comes to promoting optimal bone health, Dr. Laing suggests finding a Nutrition Expert that will help meet your needs. This is because nutrition recommendations vary for individuals based on various factors. This includes age genetics, physical activity patterns, and medication use.
"Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you navigate appropriate food sources and the need for supplements if necessary," says Dr. Laing.