Over the last 50 years, yogurt has shifted from being perceived as a specialty health food item to being a beloved mainstream staple in America.
Sweetened yogurt is often served as a healthier alternative to ice cream or custard. Plain yogurt can be used instead of sour cream to top everything from tacos to baked potatoes. Whole-milk yogurt has far fewer calories and more protein than sour cream or ice cream — and it’s also a fermented food that contains live probiotics.
Many types of yogurt contain live probiotic bacteria that can improve the gut biome and improve digestive health. Pasteurization kills probiotic bacteria, so you typically only find them in products where they’ve been added after pasteurization — check the label to be sure.
Probiotics are widely recognized as being beneficial to digestion. In one study, IBS patients who regularly consumed yogurt or fermented milk containing a specific probiotic, Bifidobacteria, showed lasting improvement in bloating and stool frequency after just three weeks.
Another study showed that yogurt containing Bifidobacteria improved bowel health and GI tract function in a generally healthy population.
Yogurt containing active probiotics is often recommended to prevent or relieve antibiotic-associated diarrhea and constipation, a use that is supported by several studies.
Helps prevent osteoporosis
Yogurt contains several nutrients that are vital to maintaining bone density, including calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Researchers have found that three daily servings of dairy products, like yogurt, may help prevent osteoporosis.
Improves gut bacteria balance
Scientific understanding of gut bacteria and the importance of a healthy microbiome has greatly increased over the last twenty years. Gut bacteria balance is now believed to be an important factor in rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease as well as maintaining a healthy weight, positive mood, and healthy skin.
Nutrients per Serving
Nutrition per 100 grams of whole-milk plain yogurt:
Yogurt’s vitamins and minerals also include vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Low-fat and nonfat varieties have fewer calories and less fat; Greek-style yogurt is higher in protein.
Things to Watch Out For
If you are lactose-intolerant or have a milk allergy, you should avoid dairy foods like yogurt. Sweetened yogurts can contain a lot of added sugar or other sweeteners and should be eaten in moderation only.
How to Prepare Yogurt
Yogurt is widely available in grocery stores — look for the words “active culture” on the label if you want the benefits of probiotics in your diet.
Making your own yogurt at home is a breeze:
- Heat milk to 180˚F and allow to cool to 112-115˚F
- Add yogurt starter (you can use commercial yogurt that contains probiotics as a starter)
- Pour into jars and allow to stand for 7-9 hours
- Refrigerate for up to ten days