Yogurt, cultured fermented milk, and health: A systematic review

Dennis A. Savaiano, Robert W. Hutkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Consumption of yogurt and other fermented products is associated with improved health outcomes. Although dairy consumption is included in most dietary guidelines, there have been few specific recommendations for yogurt and cultured dairy products. A qualitative systematic review was conducted to determine the effect of consumption of fermented milk products on gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health, cancer risk, weight management, diabetes and metabolic health, and bone density using PRISMA guidelines. English language papers in PubMed were searched, with no date restrictions. In total, 1057 abstracts were screened, of which 602 were excluded owing to lack of appropriate controls, potential biases, and experimental design issues. The remaining 455 papers were independently reviewed by both authors and 108 studies were included in the final review. The authors met regularly to concur, through consensus, on relevance, methods, findings, quality, and conclusions. The included studies were published between 1979 and 2017. From the 108 included studies, 76 reported a favorable outcome of fermented milks on health and 67 of these were considered to be positive or neutral quality according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Quality Criteria Checklist. Of the 32 remaining studies, the study outcomes were either not significant (28) or unfavorable (4), and most studies (18) were of neutral quality. A causal relationship exists between lactose digestion and tolerance and yogurt consumption, and consistent associations exist between fermented milk consumption and reduced risk of breast and colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes, improved weight maintenance, and improved cardiovascular, bone, and gastrointestinal health. Further, an association exists between prostate cancer occurrence and dairy product consumption in general, with no difference between fermented and unfermented products. This article argues that yogurt and other fermented milk products provide favorable health outcomes beyond the milk from which these products are made and that consumption of these products should be encouraged as part of national dietary guidelines. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO registration no. CRD42017068953.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-614
Number of pages16
JournalNutrition Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • dairy cultures
  • fermented milk
  • health outcomes
  • lactose
  • yogurt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Yogurt, cultured fermented milk, and health: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this