Yogurt is one food I consume regularly. But like so many foods, not all yogurts are created equal. So why is it such a healthy food and how do you choose the most nutritious type? Let’s explore…
Yogurt isn’t sweet
You may be surprised by this, but real yogurt is not sweet. You’re forgiven if you haven’t realized this when the contents of the supermarket dairy cabinet are largely sugar laden. If your yogurt tastes sweet, even a little, it has some form of sugar in it. In fact, many yogurts have alarming amounts of sugar; many supposedly healthy brands have more than ice-cream!
Real yogurt is sour. By real yogurt I mean full fat natural or Greek yogurt, they should be your only choice when shopping for this health-giving food. If you or your children don’t like the taste of real yogurt, then keep reading for some inspiring suggestions.
Why is ‘real’ yogurt so healthy?
Because it contains probiotics. The word probiotic means ‘for life’ and refers to the living good bacteria that when eaten in sufficient quantities, benefits the health of your digestive system (which in turn supports nutrient absorption, your immune system, hormones and mental health). You can read more about the importance of improving your digestion here.
When considering the probiotic content, there’s yogurt and then there’s yogurt! You see in some yogurts, the beneficial ‘probiotic’ bacteria are not always present as live and active cultures. Some yogurts are also pasteurized after they have been colonised (a process to kill the bacteria in dairy) – why? Goodness knows, there’s simply no logic in this.
I also question the ‘aliveness’ of bacteria in high sugar environments. Studies comparing identical probiotic foods, with and without sugar, have not yet been conducted. However, it is recognized that sugar (and salt) are used by the food processing industry to preserve food, based on the principles that sugar breaks down the cell walls of bacteria leading to cell death. Considering the large amounts of sugar found in most fruit and flavored yogurt, I question whether the probiotics in these yogurts are indeed viable. Another reason to consume only natural or Greek yogurt.
Eat yogurt, lose weight
Studies have also extended the benefits of yogurt to weight loss. In a study based on three trials over 20 years, yogurt was found to be the number one food associated with weight loss. Interestingly enough, it also found that quality counted more than calories including that eating organic foods, resulted in weight loss. No surprise that potato chips were rated the most likely cause of weight gain! There were some confounding factors for these results, but interesting none the less. Some studies are currently investigating the role probiotics have on the way that calories are dealt with in the digestive tract, again leading to weight loss.
Full fat or low fat?
ONLY full fat, I can’t be more emphatic. Why? Firstly it is closer to its natural state this way (milk is supposed to have fat in it so why mess with it)? Also, removing the fat from dairy disrupts the important enzymes that assist in its metabolism. Many experts claim that this process, makes low fat, indeed more fattening. The sugar content in low-fat dairy is also concerning and also contributes to weight gain (it is sugar, not fat that makes us fat). Can you see the irony? For more detail on fat, you can read this post here.
Also, full fat just tastes better and because you are more satisfied and full, you will not eat as much or have seconds (fat fills you up, sugar does not and stimulates you to want more).
My favorite brands
Making the change from flavored to natural
If you or your children dislike the taste of natural yogurt, then you will need to flavor it yourself. Here are some suggestions:
Ways I use natural yogurt
Some of the dishes where you’ll find real yogurt…
Note – I’ve posted instructions for making your own yogurt in the comments below.
Do you have a favorite brand of natural or Greek yogurt? How do you eat your yogurt? Love for you to share your ideas below.
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