Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt can play an important role in managing type 2 diabetes. For example milk and yogurt have a low glycaemic index (GI) so are ideal for people with diabetes. That’s because low GI foods help prevent large ups and downs of blood sugar levels. The glycaemic index ranks carbohydrate foods according to their effect on blood glucose (sugar) levels. The lower the GI, the slower the rise in blood glucose levels will be when the food is consumed. Foods with a GI 70 and above are classified as high GI foods. Foods with a GI 55 and below are low GI foods.
Carbohydrate containing dairy foods such as milk and yogurt are ideal low GI snacks and can be added as ingredients to lower the overall GI of a meal. This is due to the combination of dairy’s carbohydrate source (lactose) having a naturally low GI and the presence of protein which helps slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. A recent study showed a low-GI diet, which is high in dairy foods and fruit, but low in potatoes and cereals, improved insulin sensitivity in adults 65 years plus.*
The table below outlines the GI values of carbohydrate-containing dairy foods:
|Australian Dairy Products
||Natural "fat free"
||Strawberry flavoured, "fat free" (artificially sweetened)
Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney, Australia), unpublished observations, 1995-2007. Available at: http://www.glycemicindex.com/
*Du H et al (2008) Glycemic index and glycemic load in relation to food and nutrient intake and metabolic risk factors in a Dutch population. Am. J Clin. Nutr. 87: 655-61.
Read more about dairy foods and diabetes in our Diabetes fact sheet.