Yogurt, which contains live bacteria, may be better for you than you thought. Even those who cannot stand the texture or stomach the taste can reap its benefits.
Not only is yogurt a dairy product that supplies a good source of calcium and vitamin D, it also contains probiotics, or live microorganisms (mainly bacteria), which provide a health benefit greater than other dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
Within our gut we have beneficial, as well as harmful, bacteria. Upon consumption, the healthy bacteria in yogurt are able to present a multitude of positive effects on one’s body.
The live culture bacteria is able to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, while also enhancing immunity and facilitating digestion. They help our bodies function at their best.
The amount of live bacteria within yogurt is not readily available on packaging, however, it can be obtained by contacting the company directly.
The concentrations in a 6 oz. strawberry yogurt for popular brands include: Stonyfield Farm with more than 1 billion cultures, Light ‘n Fit with 17 billion cultures at the time of production and Prairie Farms with 85 billion.
Simple ways to enjoy yogurt include:
•Top yogurt with one-fourth cup granola or handful of almonds
•Stir one-half cup yogurt into 1 cup cooled cooked oatmeal
•Eat your cereal with yogurt instead of milk
•Mix a 6 ounce container of low-fat or fat-free yogurt with one single serve packet of Jell-O and milk until the desired consistency is achieved
•Substitute plain yogurt for sour cream in recipes or as a topping for a baked potato
•Use plain yogurt in place of buttermilk
•Freeze a six ounce container to make your own frozen yogurt. Top with fruit such as warm berries or apple slices.
Eating yogurt as a snack is a great option, but it does not end there. Yogurt is a very versatile food product that can be incorporated into any meal.
More complex recipes to take on:
Make a Mexican bean dip by combining 16 ounce fat-free refried beans, 16 ounce salsa, and 1 cup plain yogurt. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.
Make your own salad dressing by combining 1 cup plain yogurt, one-fourth cup olive oil, and your favorite spices.
Healthify your mashed potato recipe by beating together one pound skin-on boiled potatoes, one-half cup plain yogurt, and 1 tablespoon canola or extra-virgin olive oil
Combine 2 cups plain yogurt, 2 teaspoons dried dill weed, and a garlic clove. Place in a strainer lined with a coffee filter and drain the yogurt mixture in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Your final product will be a low calorie yogurt cheese that’s as good as a dip or spread.
It sounds crazy to intentionally ingest bacteria since we associate bacteria with infection, but these are the “good” guys.
It is important however, that when you purchase yogurt you verify on the label that the item contains “live active cultures” or “living yogurt cultures.” Without one of these statements, you are still providing your body with calcium and dairy, yet the bacteria are absent.
If you need help finding the yogurt that is best for you, your grocer will be more than happy to help. With all of the healthy options yogurt can be included in, consuming the good bacteria becomes a lot easier.
Friday’s Flavor is editor by Amanda Newell of the dietetics department.