A huge chunk of the population consumes yogurt every day. Just stand in the dairy aisle. You’ll see. Yogurt is pretty simple food. Basically, it’s fermented milk that’s mixed with two types of live bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These are good bacteria that help promote gut health. Apart from the probiotics, yogurt is also loaded with calcium and protein, and regular consumption is said to improve our immune system.
When Yogurt is Good for Your Health
There are many varieties and types of yogurt, and not all of them have the same nutritional value:
- Traditional yogurt is what we are used to. It’s unstrained and not as creamy or thick as other varieties. This type of yogurt can come in many flavors, some having real fruits. Depending on the type of milk used to make traditional yogurt, it can be low-fat or no-fat.
- Greek yogurt. It starts as the traditional yogurt but is then strained to remove some liquid, leaving behind a thicker, creamier, and high protein drink.
- Australian yogurt is said to be cooked longer and slower than regular yogurt. It has a creamy, velvety texture and is usually sweetened with honey.
- Icelandic yogurt or Skyr yogurt is the thickest and smoothest type of yogurt available. It’s strained four times and is traditionally made with skim milk.
- Kefir is different than yogurt because it contains different bacteria. It has a tart, bubbly taste and is very high in protein, calcium, probiotics, and vitamin D, among other nutrients.
- According to Lindsey Kane, RD and Director of Nutrition at Sun Basket, not all yogurts have the same levels of probiotics. “Most yogurts undergo pasteurization after fermentation, a process that kills the fragile probiotics cultivated during fermentation,” says Kane.
Health Benefits of Yogurt Boosts the Immune System
The probiotics in yogurt help to regulate anything that passes through the lining as it enters your bloodstream. This means that a healthy gut supports a healthier immune system that can defend against any kind of illness. Research has shown that probiotics can prompt the synthesis of natural antibodies and immune cells, such as lymphocytes and Natural Killer T cells, which can attack all kinds of invading viruses and toxins.
Improves Mental Health
Probiotics have plenty of benefits to the body. Not only do they help boost your immune system, but also your mental health. Studies have found a correlation between the gut and brain, meaning the healthier your gut, the healthier your brain. There’s strong evidence suggesting that probiotics can help improve anxiety, depression, memory, and mood. While you can’t notice or feel these effects after just one serving of yogurt, regular intake is definitely going to have positive results on your overall health. ”
Yogurt May Help with Weight Loss and Management
Yogurt is a protein, fat, and carbohydrates powerhouse, which are fundamental for energy and feeling full. When you take yogurt, it sends signals to the brain that you’re satiated, thereby reducing your hunger pangs.
Helps to Prevent Yeast Infection
Several studies have linked the consumption of yogurt to the reduction of yeast infections. So, if you’re prone to such infections, you may want to up your intake. However, keep in mind that drinking yogurt is not an alternative to medicines.
Yogurt is Recommended After a Workout
When you work out, your muscles get worn out. But, when you take Greek yogurt within 60 minutes of your workout, it releases amino acids into your cells to help repair the muscles. Greek yogurt has less sugar and more protein than regular yogurts, making it the perfect pro-workout snack.
Unlike milk, yogurt has low lactose content. This means that people with lactose intolerance can safely consume yogurt without experiencing discomfort. Plus, yogurt contains bacteria that aids in digestion. However, start with a small amount of yogurt first to see how it reacts with your body.
When Yogurt Is Bad for Your Health
Some brands of yogurt are known to have added sugars or artificial sweeteners for extra sweetness. The downside is that the sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike. That’s why it’s always advisable to read the label to check the nutritional facts before buying yogurt. Some yogurt varieties have been loaded with up to 14 grams of sugar per serving. Like they say, too much of anything is poisonous. Put another way, drinking yogurt every day, especially yogurt laden with artificial flavorings and sweeteners can negatively affect your health. If you’re looking for a healthier choice, opt for plain yogurt or Greek yogurt and add fresh fruits. The naturally occurring sugar in fruits is good and can’t be compared to added sugars. Alternatively, you can add a spoonful of maple syrup or honey if you don’t like the tart taste of plain yogurt.
All images by Shutterstock