Yoghurt is made by adding bacteria to milk. The milk ferments, and the result is a highly nutritious, probiotic food that has a number of culinary uses. In addition to being good for your gut, yoghurt contains an array of nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and other vitamins. If you are lactose intolerant, yoghurt can usually be eaten without a problem. The bacteria within yoghurt turns the lactose in milk into lactic acid, making yoghurt easier to digest than other dairy products.
Moreover, there are different types of yoghurt that are beneficial in different ways. Greek yoghurt for instance, is strained fat free yoghurt that is extremely high in protein and has half the carbohydrates and half the sodium than regular yoghurt. Yoghurt can also be made from a wide variety of milks including goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, soy milk and almond milk.
Nutritional Value Of Yoghurt
One of the main benefits of yoghurt is of course it’s good probiotic bacteria. The bacteria in yoghurt contributes to the flora of your gut and can heal ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, candida, allergies, and even some mental health disorders. Besides being great for your digestive health, yoghurt contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus,and zinc. Here is the nutritional profile of 100g of Plain, whole milk yoghurt:
- 61 calories
- 3.5 g protein
- 4.7 carbohydrates
- 4.7 g sugar
- 0g fibre
- 3.3 g fat
Vitamins and Minerals
The type of bacteria used and the fermentation process usually determines the nutrients contained in the final product. Yoghurt made using whole milk is especially high in:
This vitamin can be hard to get and is found mostly in dairy and animal products such as meat, fish and eggs.
Yoghurt contains calcium that is easily absorbed by the body.
Phosphorous works with calcium to form bones and teeth and plays an important role in how the body utilizes carbohydrates and fats.
Riboflavin (or Vitamin B2):
Riboflavin helps to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It converts carbohydrates into ATP and helps regulate the body’s energy supply.
The carbohydrates in yoghurt are simple sugars called lactose and galactose. The bacteria in yoghurt break down lactose to form galactose and glucose. The glucose is then converted into lactic acid and is responsible for the souring and fermented taste of yoghurt. Most people can consume lactic acid and galactose without experiencing symptoms relating to lactose intolerance. This makes yoghurt a favorable choice for those with this digestive ailment. As a result of this process, yoghurt is relatively low in sugar and carbohydrates and can be consumed without any guilt.
Yoghurt, namely Greek yoghurt, has recently been getting more and more popular in the fitness industry as a viable source of protein – pre or post workout. One cup of plain yoghurt contains about 8.5 g of protein. That’s almost half the amount of a scoop of whey protein powder (20g). The protein in yoghurt is also defined as whey (water soluble protein) or casein (insoluble proteins). Extra whey or casein is often added to yoghurt in processing and therefore adds extra protein to the final product. The benefit of whey or casein protein is that it’s a natural protein and it is easy to digest, even for those who are lactose intolerant.
The fat in yoghurt is dependent upon what kind of milk is used to make it.
Fat content in yoghurt can range from fat-free to 3.3g of fat (whole milk yoghurt). Most yoghurt sold in stores is low fat, although full fat yoghurt can be useful in certain recipes. The fat in yoghurt, unlike fat contained in fried foods and some meats, is actually considered beneficial. Milk fat contains 400 different types of fatty acids and a unique form of good trans fat, conjugated linoleic acid. Consuming this type of fat is “associated with lower blood pressure and reduced risk of CVD and type 2 diabetes.”
Yoghurt contains live culture or probiotic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria that can contribute greatly to your health. Some of the benefits of this type of bacteria include: Immune system support, lower cholesterol, vitamin synthesis, digestive health and improved lactose tolerance.
Benefits Of Yoghurt
Here are some top benefits of consuming yoghurt on a daily basis. For optimal benefits, be sure to choose sugar-free varieties.
1. Digestive Health
Yoghurt is easily digestible compared to milk. This can be attributed to the live cultures, the probiotic bacteria that is produced through fermentation.
Some of the most common digestive ailments that the probiotics in yoghurt can help include: irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’ disease and lactose intolerance.
2. Bone Health
Osteoporosis can occur when the body does not synthesize enough bone or loses bone mass. This can cause bone structure to become brittle and can usually happen with an increasing age. Consuming dairy products is associated with higher bone density and a decreased risk of osteoporosis. The calcium and protein content in yoghurt can be attributed to improving bone health and strengthening bone structure if consumed on a regular basis.
3. Blood Pressure Management
High blood pressure can be a sign of many different kinds of heart concerns including heart attack or stroke.A study found that by eating only two servings of yoghurt a week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20%.
4. Strengthens Immune System
Consuming yoghurt that has high amounts of probiotics can improve your immune health and reduce the likelihood of contracting an illness. One of the most unique attributes of probiotics is its ability to heal inflammation in the gut. The anti-inflammatory effects of probiotic bacteria can counteract certain gut related disorders, viral infections and other immune disorders.
5. Promotes Weight Loss and muscle build
The high protein content in yoghurt can create a feeling of satiety and suppress the appetite, reducing sugar cravings throughout the day. The high biological value protein also helps in effective muscle building. The good fats in yoghurt have shown to help with weight loss. Supplementing with yoghurt before or after a workout will add an extra protein punch to your fitness routine.
6. Lowers Cholesterol
Studies have shown that yoghurt can increase “good” HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. In addition, subjects who ate yoghurt were found to have a lower BMI, waist circumference and lower triglyceride levels.
7. Reduce Yeast Infections
A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that is caused by a type of yeast called “candida”. The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and ulva. Eating yoghurt regularly can prevent yeast infections and restore the balance of microflora in your gut.
8. Reduce Allergy Symptoms
The probiotics in yoghurt can actually steer off unwanted allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. Probiotics help balance the bacteria in your digestive system and may prevent the immune system from overreacting to pollen and other allergens”.
9. Improves Oral Health
The lactic acid in yoghurt helps to fight periodontal diseases like gingivitis. In addition, the bacteria can help fight decay in gums and teeth and can decrease levels of hydrogen sulfide which causes bad breath.
Conditions when yoghurt needs to be avoided
Yoghurt is not always agreeable with everyone and can actually cause negative effects for people with certain conditions. It can cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to dairy products. It’s best to avoid yoghurt that contains high amounts of sugar or fruit preserves. This can cancel out the effects of the probiotics. Choose yoghurt that is natural with active bacterial cultures for the most benefit.
Healthy Indian Yoghurt Recipes
Yoghurt being extremely beneficial for your health, it should be incorporated into your diet. Here are some healthy recipes that make sure you receive a daily dose.
Indian recipes employ yoghurt as an emulsifier and to add richness and tang to curries. Here are some healthy recipes you can try at home:
Raita is a yoghurt cucumber condiment used to cool down the palate:
- ½ cup plain full fat yoghurt
- ½ cup peeled and chopped cucumber
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 2 tsp chopped green onion
- ¼ tsp crushed coriander seeds
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to serve. Serves 4-5.
Chicken in yoghurt gravy
This curry uses yoghurt to thicken and give a creaminess to the dish.
- 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tbsp oil
- 1 ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp minced ginger root
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3-4 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup plain, full fat yoghurt
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange chicken on a baking sheet and drizzle over oil.
- Bake in over for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside.
- In a large skillet on medium-high, saute onions, garlic and ginger.
- Cook for 5-8 minutes or until onion is translucent.
- Add spices and ½ cup of water to the mixture.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes have softened completely.
- Add yoghurt, cilantro and 1 tsp salt.
- Add the chicken to the skillet and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Cover skillet and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Finally add lemon juice and serve. Serves 6.
Yoghurt is chock full of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients that our body needs to function optimally. Yoghurt is very high in protein and contains a complex profile of amino acids that can effectively build muscle and help with recovery after a workout.
The calcium and phosphorus in yoghurt contributes to strong bones and can prevent osteoporosis. This creamy product is also extremely beneficial to digestive health. The probiotic bacteria found in yoghurt helps to heal gut inflammation and can prevent and treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and IBS. Yoghurt can be eaten as part of a breakfast parfait, blended into a smoothie, added to savory dishes like curries or even as a snack.