Health Benefits of Yogurt: Yogurt and Your DietAs many of our readers know, with a possible exception of raw organic milk, I pass on “moo juice” and advice others to do the same.
But June is Dairy Month – there has to be something good we can find about milk. And there is, it is called yogurt.
The Health Benefits of Yogurt Perhaps the most healthful of all dairy products, yogurt is a good source of B vitamins, protein, and calcium. But it offers more than good nutrition and taste. Yogurt is fermented milk that has been inoculated with live active cultures of beneficial bacteria.
“These cultures carry on the conversion of milk’s lactose sugar into lactic acid,” says Michael Murray, ND. “A number of studies have demonstrated that intake of yogurt enhances lactose digestion in individuals with low intestinal levels of lactase, the enzyme necessary to digest lactose.”
The health benefits of yogurt are mainly due to its friendly bacteria – also known as probiotics – these little guys help keep harmful bacteria in check. Probiotics change the level of acidity in the digestive system so that unwanted bacteria don’t get the nutrients they need to thrive.
Some beneficial bacteria even produce their own type of antibiotic that can kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and yeast. Research finds probiotics helpful in the treatment of allergies, diarrhea, diverticulitis, eczema, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions.
Friendly bacteria in yogurt improve absorption of nutrients and may also help to prevent postoperative infections, respiratory infections, and growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial pathogen linked to peptic ulcers and possibly stomach cancer. Probiotics even appear promising in preventing infections in newborns.
Plain yogurt is made from whole, low-fat, or nonfat milk, while flavored varieties add sweeteners, fruit (ranging from acai to pomegranate), or other flavorings. Stay away from sweetened yogurts. They are high in sugar, which negates the health benefits of probiotics and contributes to weight gain.
Look for yogurts that offer Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus with the words “live” or “active” cultures on the label. Avoid yogurt that’s “heat treated after culturing,” or pasteurized after the bacteria were added, possibly destroying live cultures. [source: Taste for Life]