Yoghurt, better known as "yogurt," is a dairy product made from the bacterial fermentation of milk. While that may sound a bit unappetizing to some, most people recognize yogurt as a great dairy treat suitable for breakfast, as a snack or a dessert. Aside from its popular taste, texture and characteristic tanginess, yogurt has been found to have numerous health benefits. Here are 10 healthy reasons why people should add yogurt to their diet.
Yogurt is rich in vitamins, with a single serving containing a significant amount of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, vitamin B5 and vitamin B12. While the vitamin content depends on the type of yogurt being consumed and the way it was produced, yogurt has been found to share a majority of the vitamins found in milk. Yogurt made from whole milk also provides fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, which is important for normal eye function, and vitamin E, which is important to the body's immune system.
A study performed by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has found a correlation between the loss of belly fat and an added 18 ounces of yogurt to a person's daily diet. According to Dr. Michael Zemel, a nutrition professor who led the study, the calcium found in yogurt induces weight loss by triggering fat cells to create less cortisol, a hormone related to the accumulation of belly flab. In other words, the calcium intake from yogurt helps the body to burn body fat rather than store it.
While many people associate the word "bacteria" with something that is harmful to the body, yogurt has been found to actually contain "good" bacteria. Fermented products, like yogurt, with active and live cultures contain probiotics, which are living microorganisms that are beneficial to the body. Probiotics found in yogurt are especially beneficial to the body's digestive tract and can also help strengthen the immune system.
In a recent study, the regular consumption of dairy products has shown to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. According to Dr. Alvaro Alonso, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, there was a 50 percent reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among those who ate two to three servings of low-fat dairy products a day, compared with those without any dairy intake.
In a study by the University of Washington, Seattle, subjects were tested on hunger, fullness and the amount of calories consumed at the next meal. Of the various snacks, which included yogurt, a peach-flavored beverage and peach juice, subjects who consumed yogurt products had lower hunger ratings and higher fullness ratings than the other snacks used in the testing. Protein rich food, like yogurt, has also been found to satisfy hunger better than those lower in protein.
The amount of protein found in yogurt makes it a great snack after a hard workout, especially Greek yogurt due to its high protein content. Protein helps provide the amino acids necessary for muscles to repair themselves. The carbohydrates found in yogurt also help replace the muscles' energy stores that have been depleted after strenuous exercise.
Calcium is necessary for strong bones and healthy teeth, however many people fall short of the daily recommended amount of calcium intake. When the body is not getting enough calcium from a regular diet, it can take calcium directly from the bones. Yogurt is rich in calcium, with some yogurt products containing more than half of the daily calcium requirement in one serving.
A study at the University of Vienna indicates that subjects who consumed four ounces of yogurt daily had much stronger and more active T cells, which play an important role in the immune system and help fight off illness and infection, than they did before they started consuming yogurt. The "good" bacteria in yogurt helps send signals to immune-boosting cells in the body to fight off harmful bugs according to Dr. Alexa Meyer, the lead study and a nutrition researcher at the university.
When learning about yogurt or reading the labels found on yogurt containers, one may come across the words: "live and active cultures." Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are live and active cultures added to milk to create yogurt. These live and active cultures help break down lactose, enabling most people with lactose intolerance to finally enjoy a dairy product without uncomfortable problems from the digestive system.
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones and increases the risk in a bone fracture. The combination of calcium and vitamin D found in yogurt makes it especially beneficial to those suffering from osteoporosis. The calcium in yogurt helps strengthens the bones, while the vitamin D helps the body with calcium absorption.
The health benefits associated with yogurt varies on the type of yogurt being consumed. Those who wish to add it to their regular diet should find a product suitable to their dietary needs. Some other things to consider when choosing a yogurt are calories, fat and sugar content.