10 Incredible Health Benefits Of Yogurt
Medically Reviewed by Madeline Hubbard, RN, BSN.
Beloved by people around the world, yogurt is a dairy product made from the bacterial fermentation of milk. Commonly, yogurt has a smooth texture and a characteristic tanginess. Best of all, it can be eaten for breakfast, or as a snack or dessert. What you may not know is that yogurt also has numerous health benefits, making it an important diet staple for many.
Healthy Components of Yogurt
Yogurt is rich in vitamins, with a single serving containing a significant amount of potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, vitamin B5 and vitamin B12. While the vitamin content depends on the type of yogurt and the way it was produced, yogurt has been found to contain the majority of vitamins found in cow’s 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.
While many people associate the word “bacteria” with something that is harmful to the body, yogurt actually contains “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 most yogurt are especially beneficial to the body’s digestive tract and can also help strengthen the immune system.
Calcium is necessary for strong bones and healthy teeth. However, many people fall short of the average daily recommended amount of calcium intake. Yogurt is rich in dietary calcium, and one serving can provide a good portion of the daily calcium recommendation as part of a balanced diet.
Regular yogurt has high protein content, and Greek-style yogurt contains even more. Due to its protein levels, yogurt fuels the body and can produce lasting feelings of fullness after consumption. When compared with other lower-protein snacks and meals, yogurt was reported to reduce hunger sensations in a 2017 review of studies.
Yogurt’s Health Impacts
High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases the risk of multiple dangerous health problems, including heart attack or stroke. Regular daily consumption of dairy is a recommended aspect of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) meal plan. Depending on other factors like medications and medical history, yogurt is a source of dietary calcium that may impact an individual’s blood pressure levels.
At appropriate intake levels, yogurt may be associated with lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. This has to do with probiotics’ effect on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in the body. Improved metabolism may lead to weight loss and improved cardiovascular health as well.
The amount of protein found in yogurt makes it a great snack to eat after exercising. 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.
The probiotics contained in yogurt may also play a role in boosting immune function, or the body’s ability to fight off infection. In a 2017 study, participants who received particular levels of probiotic yogurt supplementation in their diet had a lower incidence of upper respiratory tract infection.
Yogurt labels may contain the words “live and active cultures.” Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are live and active cultures added to milk to create yogurt. These cultures help break down lactose, enabling most people with lactose intolerance to finally enjoy a dairy product without uncomfortable digestive consequences.
When the body is not getting enough calcium from a regular diet it will pull calcium directly from the bones, which can lead to a condition called osteoporosis — a disease of the bones that increases the risk of 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 strengthen bones, while vitamin D helps the body with calcium absorption.
It’s important to remember that the health benefits associated with yogurt varies depending upon 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.