Dairy products such as milk and yogurt promote healthier hip bones than cream, says a new finding from a Harvard Medical School affiliate.
Choosing low-fat milk or yogurt over cream can increase intake of protein, calcium and vitamin D, while limiting intake of saturated fats, said Shivani Sahni, from the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR), an Harvard affiliate, who co-authored the study.
A quarter of those who suffer a hip fracture die within a year of the injury.
About 34 million Americans alone have low bone density, facing a higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist.
"Dairy foods provide several important nutrients that are beneficial for bone health," said Sahni, from the Musculoskeletal Research Team, IFAR, the journal Archives of Osteoporosis reports.
"However, cream and its products such as ice cream have lower levels of these nutrients and have higher levels of fat and sugar.
"In this study, 2.5 to three servings of milk and yogurt intake per day were associated with better bone density," she said, according to an IFAR statement.
"More research is needed to examine the role of cheese intake (some of which can be high in fat and sodium), and whether individual dairy foods have a significant impact in reducing fractures," said Sahni.
IFAR researchers based their findings on data collected from a food frequency questionnaire completed by 3,212 participants from the Framingham Offspring study.
They then compared participants' dairy intake with a higher bone mineral density (BMD), a measure of bone health, which revealed the benefits of milk and yogurt versus cream in largely middle-aged men and women.
This research supports the idea that proper nutrition can help combat osteoporosis and fractures.