There is no doubt about it. Yogurt is a popular food. A quick look at the local grocer’s dairy case will show several brands and styles of the creamy product. So just how wonderful is yogurt, anyway?
This curdled milk product has been consumed for centuries. In ancient times, milk was most likely stored in pouches made from the stomachs of the animals that produced milk.
These pouches contributed digestive juices and bacteria that then caused the milk to curdle. The friendly bacteria (or probiotics) preserved the milk and produced a tangy, transportable product that was a source of protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B-12.
Today yogurt is still made from bacterial cultures, and these cultures may offer benefits for our digestive tract or gut. Our gut is part of our immune system, and the yogurt cultures may help our immune system fight disease.
Yogurt may be helpful for those with lactose intolerance, too. The bacteria in the yogurt break down lactose, the milk sugar that some people cannot digest. And there is some evidence that yogurt can relieve symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Research is on-going to determine which bacteria cultures offer which type of gut protection. For example, one type of bacteria might be helpful for irritable bowel symptoms while other bacteria may be better at fighting disease. Today’s Dietitian offers a thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of probiotics.
Before purchasing yogurt, make sure to read the label closely. The label should state that it contains active cultures, not just made with active cultures. You want the bacteria to be live and active when eaten.
And don’t throw out the liquid that sometimes accumulates on top of the yogurt. This is whey, and it is a source of calcium and protein. Just stir it back into the yogurt. If you must pour it off, save the whey and add it to other foods and recipes. Some yogurts contain gelatin and other ingredients to keep the whey from separating.
By the way, Greek yogurt is made by draining the whey. This action presents a thicker product that is a concentrated source of protein. But the product may be lower in calcium when compared to regular yogurt. Check the labels for calcium content. And check calories, too.
Is yogurt a wonder food? Whether yes or no, it still remains healthy food choice for meals and snacks.
The articles written by Andrea Wenger, Birmingham Diets Examiner, are for informational purposes only and are not to be used in the place of medical advice. Please contact a licensed physician or other medical professional before changing any health care routine or before starting any diet, fitness, or exercise program. Although every effort has been made to include the most current information, new information is released daily and may cause some recommendations to change.