Ever since I was introduced to low fat Yogurt, I fell in love with it. Yogurt (or Yoghurt or Yoggourt) was actually a long-established staple in Eastern Europe and the Middle East before it becomes popular in other places. Today, yogurt is commonly consumed by men, women, and children of all ages. Walk into any supermarket, and you will see the varieties and flavors of this nutritious food take up considerable space in the dairy section. In this article, based on my personal experience eating yogurt for the past couple of years and research I did on Internet, I will share with you what I know about yogurt from layman’s point of view.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
When yogurt is compared to milk, yogurt contains more calcium and protein because of the added cultures in the yogurt. Cultures are composed of unique living microorganisms which are responsible for the health and nutritional benefits of yogurt.
- Some people have trouble digesting lactose, a carbohydrate in milk and milk products, because of the deficiency of enzyme lactase in the body. Live yogurt cultures produce lactase and break down the lactose into glucose and galactose, two sugars that are easily absorbed by lactose-intolerant persons. Yogurt is a healthy way to get the calcium the body needs, for the people who cannot tolerate milk products.
- Yogurt contains 88% water, and is therefore a great source of water as well as nutrients. Some people think that because yogurt is more acidic than milk, it may actually cause osteoporosis. Not true. Not only is yogurt not decalcifying, but the lactose in yogurt even helps to improve calcium absorption. And because it is such an excellent source of calcium, people at risk for osteoporosis would do well to eat at least one yogurt per day.
- The live and active cultures in the yogurt may also help to boost the immune system. They encourage the right kind of bacteria to multiply in the gut. These bacteria help to digest food and prevent stomach infections. Research has suggested that eating yogurt regularly helps boost the body’s immune-system function, warding off colds and possibly even helping to fend off cancer.
5 Tips of Buying and Storing Yogurt
- There are two main types of yogurt: regular (whole milk) and low-fat. Low-fat yogurt are good for people who are on a cholesterol lowering diet. So, go for low fat version of yogurt.
- Go for plain yogurt – Ounce for ounce, plain yogurt is more nutritious than fruit-added preparations. The next time you shop yoghurt, look at the differences on the labels:
- Plain yogurt contains around one-half of the calories of the same amount of fruit-added yogurt.
- Plain yogurt contains almost twice the amount of proteins.
- Plain yogurt contains more calcium.
- Plain yogurt contains no added sugar.
If you find plain yogurt is not tasty, add flavor with your favorite fruit. This way you control the sweeteners.
- Avoid yogurt that says “heat treated after culturing” on the label – When you see the term of “heat treat after culturing”, it means that the yoghurt was pasteurized after the healthful organisms were added, which dilutes the health benefits of the yogurt. Pasteurization deactivates the lactose and kills the live cultures, thereby obliterating two health benefits of yogurt. Wonder why the manufacturers do that? Heat-treating yogurt trades economic gain for nutritional loss. It prolongs the shelf life, but spoils its nutrition and health-food value. Lactose-intolerant persons who can tolerate yogurt containing live and active cultures may not be able to digest yogurt that has been heat treated.
- Yogurt must always be refrigerated – Each carton should have a “sell by” date stamped on it. It should be eaten within the week following the “sell by” date to take full advantage of the live and active cultures in the yogurt. As yogurt is stored, the amount of live and active cultures begins to decline.
- Avoid frozen yoghurt. Frozen yogurt is not the same product and will not yield the same health benefits; even if they specify live cultures they will have only a fraction of the beneficial bacteria of fresh yogurt and they will not enhance lactose tolerance.
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