Higher consumption of yogurt, compared with no consumption, can reduce the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes by 28 percent, according to new research.

Investigators at the University of Cambridge, in England, found that higher consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products, which include all yogurt varieties and some low-fat cheeses, also reduced the relative risk of diabetes by 24 percent overall, according to a university press release.

This risk reduction was observed among individuals who consumed an average of four and a half standard 4-ounce containers of yogurt per week. The same applies to other low-fat fermented dairy products such as low-fat unripened cheeses and low-fat cottage cheese. A further finding was that consuming yogurt in place of a portion of other snacks, such as potato chips, also reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Dairy products are a source of protein, vitamins and minerals; however, they are also a source of saturated fat, which dietary guidelines currently advise people not to consume in high quantities, instead recommending they replace these with lower fat options, according to the press release.

“While this type of study cannot prove that eating dairy products causes the reduced diabetes risk, dairy products do contain beneficial constituents such as vitamin D, calcium and magnesium,” the press release noted. “In addition, fermented dairy products may exert beneficial effects against diabetes through probiotic bacteria and a special form of vitamin K associated with fermentation.”

The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Related article: “Healthy Snacks Between Massage Sessions”