Yogurt Facts: Health Benefits of Yogurt
The Benefits of Yogurt
Yogurt is very good for you! It's full of beneficial active cultures that help prevent bad bacteria from taking up residence in your body. The other benefits of yogurt is that it gives your body valuable nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamin B2.
Yogurt can boost your health. Here are some facts about yogurt:
Yogurt bacteria can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It can also restore the balance of your body's yeast levels, preventing yeast infections. It can help prevent urinary tract infections. Because yogurt is rich in calcium, it can keep your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis.
People who are moderately lactose intolerant can often digest yogurt without a problem. The process of turning milk into yogurt transforms the lactose into lactic acid, which means your body doesn't have to process the sugars in the original milk product.
Even better, yogurt can be eaten in a variety of different ways. You can even make a delicious smoothie with some yogurt and fruits.
Watch That Label!
When you buy yogurt from the grocery store, make sure the label doesn't say "pasteurized." Also, look for "live bacteria" or "live cultures" on the label.
The pasteurizing process kills off the good bacteria, minimizing the health benefits of yogurt.
What Is Yogurt, Anyway?
And Is There Really Bacteria In Yogurt?
Yes, you heard right: Yogurt contains bacteria. But don't worry, it's good bacteria. The live cultures in yogurt inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
Yogurt is cream or milk that has has been fermented with live bacteria at a consistently warm temperature. The milk attains a pudding-like consistency, and the lactose is converted to lactic acid. That's what gives yogurt its slightly acidic flavor.
Yogurt is good to keep on hand, but it's a pain to run to the store whenever you need it. Worse still, stores only sell yogurt in either those little cups or in containers that only contain four servings.
A yogurt machine like this one makes it so much easier to keep your fridge stocked. With the Salton Yogurt Maker, you can whip up 1 quart of yogurt. It has a see-through lid that lets you monitor the yogurt's progress.
Review of Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Yogurt
Recently I tried out Dannon's Light & Fit vanilla yogurt. This particular breed of yogurt has no fat, but it contains an artificial sweetener called Nutrasweet. It has a nice pudding-like consistency, but it also has a funny aftertaste that bothers me. It definitely tastes artificial. Mixing it up with blackberries and other fruits helps disguise this artificial flavor, but I don't really enjoy this yogurt by itself.
Since I've only tried the vanilla Light & Fit, I don't know how the other flavors compare. However, I do know that I prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners.
Yogurt With Berries
I have it on good authority that Greek yogurt is superior to the pitiful watery stuff we Americans are used to eating. Apparently Greek yogurt is very thick and creamy. It's made from whole milk, usually from a sheep or a cow. It's supposed to be especially decadent when you mix it with honey.
You notice I can't speak from personal experience. I've been keeping my eyes open for Greek yogurt, but so far the local grocery stores here don't appear to stock it. The bums. When I finally find some, I'll buy it, eat it, and report my findings here.
The History of Yogurt
Where Did Yogurt Come From?
So now we know the science of yogurt, but what about yogurt's history? We're pretty sure yogurt has been around for over 4,500 years, but it's hard to say where yogurt first originated.
Our best guess is that yogurt was discovered by accident. The first batches of yogurt were probably born in bags full of goat's milk while they were being carried around by nomadic people migrating to Europe. Some brave or hungry soul probably tried the dubious substance, thought "Hey, this is pretty good!," and decided to try duplicating the results.
Many cultures around the world developed their own version of yogurt. It's hard to say which cultures discovered it on their own and which cultures adopted it from others.
Yogurt Smoothies to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Fruit Smoothies with Yogurt!
If you have a blender, you can make your own fruit smoothies using just a bit of fruit, yogurt, and ice. Sometimes I even skip the ice, other times I thin smoothies with a bit of milk.
Here's a recipe for a basic strawberry smoothie:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup strawberries
A handful of ice (I find crushed ice works best)
Blend thoroughly, pour in a glass, and enjoy!
Fee free to experiment with other variations, too. Mix in a chopped banana to mellow the tart sweetness of the strawberries, or spike it up with some blueberries. It's hard to ruin a fruit smoothie.
In fact, some people like slipping in lettuce leaves or other bits of veggies to make "green smoothies." As long as you don't add too much veg, it will still taste like a perfectly good fruit smoothie.
To make fruit smoothies, you need a blender. I personally like the Oster Classic Beehive Blender: It's solid, heavy, classic-looking, and simple to operate. There's only one switch to fool with. No confusing buttons that can get stuck or gummed up.
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