If you haven’t added some yogurt to your daily diet, it would be a good time to start. Many people that eat yogurt think only Greek yogurt is healthy but it doesn’t have to be Greek yogurt. Find a yogurt you like, in a flavor you are willing to eat. Here are some health benefits of yogurt and what to look for when choosing yogurt. (Adapted from Yogurt and health).
1. Does yogurt help your smile? Yes. Yogurt not only doesn’t cause cavities, it helps protect your teeth (calcium) and even helps prevent periodontal disease.
2. Does yogurt help your brain? Yes. Surprisingly, researchers have found that your gut bacteria affect brain function. So researchers studied the probiotics in yogurt and found yogurt improved brain cognition.
3. How do the probiotics in yogurt help your health? Probiotics are the “healthy bacteria” in yogurt. These bacteria help your intestinal flora and may improve your immune system.
4. Can yogurt help you slim down? Some researchers say yes. But they studied people who ate a lot of yogurt, 18 ounces a day. Those that ate all this yogurt and cut back on calories not only lost more weight but they also lost more belly fat and kept more muscle mass. They theorize it is the calcium in yogurt that tells your fat cells to release less of a substance called “cortisol” which helps you lose more weight and more belly fat.
5. Protein is filling – yogurt is a great source of protein and protein has “staying power” so you fill full longer. Greek yogurt does have a higher protein content than other yogurts but also less calcium. So for those looking for a calcium boost, non-Greek yogurt may be the choice. For those looking for a protein boost, then Greek yogurt is a good choice.
6. Can yogurt help lower blood pressure? Researchers have found that those who ate 2 servings of yogurt a day or more were less likely to develop high blood pressure, 54% less likely. Yogurt is a good source of potassium which helps counter all that sodium we all have in our diets.
7. Refuel after a workout – fueling up with protein and carbs is recommended after a workout. Yogurt is a great choice for refueling as it provides an excellent quality protein and carbs, the lactose naturally present in milk and yogurt.
8. Does yogurt help your immune system? Yes, it seems to build up one’s immune system. Eating just 4 ounces of yogurt a day may strengthen and increase the number of immune cells. It seems those probiotics in yogurt single the immune-boosting cells to power up to help you fight off illnesses.
9. Vitamin D – so many Americans are deficient in vitamin D so adding yogurt is a great way to get more vitamin D in your diet.
How to choose a healthy yogurt:
- Avoid Added sugar – try to avoid yogurts with added sugar. But looking at “sugars” on the label won’t help. Even plain Greek yogurt has the natural sugar called lactose in it. So yogurt naturally contains about 12 grams of “ milk sugar” in a 6 ounce serving. This 12 grams would not be ADDED SUGAR. The only way to tell if sugar has been added is to look at the ingredients to see if sugar has been added.
- Plain yogurt – doesn’t have added sugar but doesn’t have much flavor. So add some fruit and maybe some honey.
- More protein – then choose Greek yogurt. But choose real Greek yogurt and not “Greek style” yogurt which uses thickening agents to make it seem like real Greek yogurt.
- More calcium – to boost calcium, choose any yogurt but Greek yogurt which has less calcium per serving.
- Choose low fat yogurt – to lessen the amount of fat in your diet.
- Active cultures – look for “Live and Active Cultures” seal on yogurt. Most yogurts contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus but many yogurt companies are adding additional probiotics cultures. This is a good thing as added probiotics may enhance your immune system.
Adding some yogurt to your day is a healthy thing to do.
Sources: Yogurt and health, Choosing yogurt, How to buy the best yogurt Image source: http://www.stockfreeimages.com/