Health Benefits of Yogurt: Simple Snack or a Powerful Remedy?

yogurt and fruitIt has been given different names but the nutritious value of yogurt makes it useful as an important part of a well balanced diet. 

It is made by fermenting milk using one or more of a variety of particular bacteria that are a mouthful to pronounce, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus thermophilus, and others.

The process of making yogurt developed somewhere in Asia or Europe where there is a huge supply of milk. In Europe and Asia, cow’s milk is very prevalent; buffalo’s milk is also used in India. In Russia goats and sheep’s milk are a good source of providing milk from which the rich and smooth yogurt is formed. Yogurt can be made by the use of soya which is considered as a very healthy drink.

How Will Yogurt Help You to be Healthy?

By being an excellent desert or an ingredient in many dishes around the world, yogurt happens to be very nutritive with many benefits written to its name. Yogurt is portable, delicious and can be enjoyed for breakfast, snack or desert.

It is a source of proteins, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and also improves the absorption and bioavailability of B-vitamins and other nutrients. It is great for babies, children and fantastic for the elderly whose intestines have declining levels of beneficial bifidus bacteria. Paleo diet enthusiasts can also enjoy yogurt too.

High calcium food content is important for our bones. One serve of yogurt contains about one-quarter to one-third of an adult's RDA. Higher-calcium diets favour burning rather than storing fat so calcium also changes the efficiency of weight loss.

Yogurt also contains lactic acid which helps in the digestion of milk calcium making it much more bioavailable. Therefore you will get more calcium from yogurt than from the same amount of milk.

Yogurt is easier to digest than milk and helps with increasing ways of maintaining a well-functioning digestive system. Many people who are lactose intolerant and can't drink milk, can enjoy yogurt. The live active cultures create lactase, the enzyme lactose-intolerant people lack, and beta-galactosidase, another enzyme contained in some yogurts also helps improve lactose absorption in lactase-deficient persons.

Bacterial enzymes created during the culturing process, partially digest the milk protein casein, making it easier to be absorbed and less allergenic. People who took antibiotics can use yogurt to restore normal bacteria in the intestine and for treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and acute diarrhea in children. It is a very natural way of dealing with the problem that children frequently suffer from.

In 2003 a randomized trial of yogurt demonstrated that yogurt is a simple, effective, and safe treatment that decreases the incidence and duration of diarrhea. An earlier study published in 1999 in Pediatrics also showed that lactobacillus organisms can be very beneficial. Yogurt is an excellent food product that can assist healing after intestinal infections.

lcc-diarrhea

Source: Study shows that Lactobacillus casei sps. rhamnosusis is effective in reducing the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children

Some allergic or viral gastrointestinal disorders injure the lining of the intestines, especially the cells that produce lactase. This results in temporary malabsorption of  lactose. This is why children often cannot tolerate milk for a couple of months after being sick. Yogurt, however, because it contains far less lactose and more lactase than milk, is usually well-tolerated and is known as a popular “healing food”.

Does Yogurt Cure Yeast Infection?

Yogurt is often used for treating and preventing vaginal yeast and bacteria infections, and preventing urinary tract infections. While yeast is naturally present in a vagina (in the form of the fungus Candida albicans), an overgrowth of it is a problem and needs to be treated. Many women swear that yogurt helped them treat vaginal yeast overgrowth by applying yogurt “inside”. Whether it is true or not, it is always important to talk to your doctor to have any infection properly diagnosed.

Will Eating Yogurt Lead to Decreased Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

An analysis of yogurt consumption among Italian consumers, done as part of a large European diet and cancer risk study, showed that those who eat yogurt at least once per day have a significantly lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who eat none.  The results of the study are very important because colorectal cancer is one of the most common, yet preventable cancer types.

It has been estimated that over 70% of colorectal cancer cases in men could be preventable by a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes. Yogurt seems to affect immunity. In a small study, researchers discovered that those who ate two cups of live-culture yogurt daily for three months found had higher levels of immunity boosting interferon.

Does Yogurt Help to Lose Weight?

In an effort to drop some weight you need to consume fewer calories than your body can burn. Although no one food can determine whether you are going to slim down, yogurt is certainly nutritious and, if it is not loaded with sugar, it can be good for weight loss. Studies have shown that calcium and protein are associated with weight loss and yogurt is certainly an excellent source of both of the nutrients.

In a study conducted by Michael Zemel from the University of Tennessee, it was determined that obese people on a low-calorie diet who ate a dairy-rich diet lost more weight than those who ate little dairy or those whose diets were low in dairy but high in calcium (they took calcium supplements). Zemel reported that the yogurt group not only lost most weight but also most belly fat. This was an important finding as central obesity is associated with many health problems including diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Zemel also conducted an interesting study on mice. First he fed them high-sugar, high-fat diet for a few weeks. Subsequently he put the mice on a low-calorie diet, and gave calcium to two groups of them. Mice that didn't get any calcium lost 8% of body fat but mice that received calcium had a 42% decrease in body fat which clearly demonstrated that calcium can be very beneficial in weight loss.

If you want to lose some weight you also should focus on foods that are high in protein. You will feel full and more satisfied if your diet is high in protein and you won't binge on unhealthy, high-carb snacks that only make you more hungry as soon as you finish eating them.

Greek Yogurt vs Regular Yogurt: What are the Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt?

You probably have heard that Greek yogurt is really good for you. Its popularity has been on the rise as people are switching to healthier eating habits.

So, what is Greek yogurt and how does it differ from a regular variety? Traditionally, Greek yogurt is made by straining the yogurt to remove the whey. Whey (also called milk serum) is the liquid remaining after the milk is curdled and after it has been removed. The end result is a more-solid and creamy yogurt with fewer carbohydrates, less sodium, less sugar and higher protein content compared to regular yogurt.

Both type of yogurts are very nutritious, contain probiotics and provide numerous health benefits but they also differ, mainly in their protein, calcium and carbohydrate content. So what are the main differences?

child eating yogurtGreek Yogurt Nutrition for Good Health

Greek yogurt has different texture than regular yogurt and is thicker and creamier because it is strained. 

It can be a better choice if you want to lose some weight or build muscles as it has almost double the protein of most regular yogurts. Protein is a key nutrient necessary in maintaining muscle mass and it also keeps you full longer.

According to Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of well known book Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time, a cup of Greek yogurt has as much protein as a chicken cutlet or steak. A cup of Greek yogurt provides about 20 grams of protein, whereas regular yogurt has only 9 to 14 grams.

It has also lower carbohydrate content than regular yogurt which can be important to diabetics. A cup of low fat plain yogurt contains about 17 grams of carbohydrates. Greek yogurt has only about 8 grams. That's half as much as regular yogurt and a quarter of the carbohydrates you'd get from most yogurts that have sugar added.

If you are after yogurt that contains a lot of calcium, choose a regular yogurt because it has about three times the calcium of Greek yogurt. A cup of regular yogurt provides up to 30 percent of the government's recommended daily amount. Greek yogurt loses about half of its calcium through the straining process but it is important to note that it is still a good source of calcium.

Here is How to Choose a Healthy Yogurt

When I checked out the label of many popular yogurts, I found many ingredients that I'd rather avoid. Most yogurts contain a lot of sugar, artificial flavours, sweeteners and colours. A popular strawberry flavouring for example, is a cocktail of 30 chemical ingredients. Many yogurt varieties contain high fructose corn syrup. But beware of those sugar-free varieties too as they are sweetened with aspartame or sucralose.

You will also find ingredients that don't add any nutritional value. For example, modified gelatine and corn starch is often added to modify texture and there are others that extend shelf life.

If you do opt for real yogurt, beware of many supermarket brands that are more candy in a cup. Buy a brand that has no sugar or artificial sweeteners added, no gluten, no starches, no gelatine, preservatives, colors or food acids.

Many brands of yogurt claim to be Greek as companies want to capitalise on the popularity of this type of yogurt, but if you read the label you will notice that the brand you are just about to buy is a “fake” Greek yogurt that is just plain yogurt that was thickened with corn starch to give it thicker texture.

To ensure you’re eating a true Greek yogurt, read the label. The ingredients should include only milk and live active cultures. You’ll want to steer clear of any added ingredients including “whey concentrates” or “modified corn starch.”

Whether Greek or regular, yogurt is excellent, nutritious snack, but only if you choose the right kind. The key is sticking to plain varieties.

In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard researchers found that yogurt can keep help keep age-related weight gain in check. People tended to lose nearly 1 pound every four years if they added a daily serving of yogurt to their diet.

If you buy Greek yogurt, take advantage of its versatility. Mix it with dill, garlic, parsley and spices to create a super healthy dip for celery sticks or carrots and if you are looking to make a healthy breakfast for you and your family, swirl it with fresh or frozen berries. If you have a sweet tooth add a teaspoon of Jarrah honey or a pinch of organic coconut sugar.

And how about you. What type or brand of yogurt do you like?

Barbara Komorek

Barbara is the founder and owner of www.leanhealthyandwise.com. She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.