Yogurt - Its Health Benefits and Uses -Recipes and Remedies for Everyday Living
In last week’s tip, Healthy Choices, I got so wrapped up in the multitude of healthy alternatives available when cooking, I failed to mention one which, in and of itself, is conducive to good health without compromising flavor. It’s kind of like when you walk into a room for a specific purpose, get side-tracked by disarray (which bugs the hell out of you and must be fixed – now!) and leave the room without whatever it was you went there for in the first place! Or going to the store for a specific item and leaving with everything but! Just proves, once again, my mantra: the best laid plans of mice and men!
Last week I intended to discuss the benefits of yogurt and how it can be incorporated into everyday living through substitution in recipes, in addition to the obvious means of consumption. To give yogurt it’s due, I will devote this week’s tip to yogurt and yogurt alone. (Hopefully, I won’t get side-tracked, but I won’t make any promises!)
Health Benefits of Yogurt
First, let’s discuss the science and nutritional benefits of yogurt. Yogurt is made by bacterial fermentation of milk. Sounds yucky, huh? The fact is the “good” bacteria and yeasts found in yogurt serve the body. For those who are lactose intolerant, the live cultures convert milk sugar to lactic acid, which causes a decrease in lactose. Most people who are lactose intolerant can consume yogurt without harmful effects. Which is good news because one of the greatest benefits of yogurt is its probiotic properties. Probiotic bacterial cultures aid the body’s present intestinal flora to re-establish themselves. Probiotics help fortify the immune system to combat allergies, stress, exposure to harmful substances, aid in digestion and ridding the body of waste build-up, boosts the body’s level of glutathione, which is a cancer fighting compound, and even encourages good gum health! Yogurt is also nutritionally plentiful in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12. Wow! What a powerhouse!
Ok, so now we know yogurt is good for the body. And, as always, we have choices; specifically, American and Greek. Greek yogurt has a thicker, smoother, pudding- like texture and is the one I prefer. While both are beneficial, Greek yogurt has a higher level of live and active culture content than that of regular yogurt. Also, because it’s more saturated (giving it the thicker consistency) it provides roughly double the protein of American style yogurt and a more concentrated level of probiotics.
Use Yogurt in Recipes
Yogurt can be substituted for sour cream in many, if not all recipes. Whether baking or cooking, if a recipe calls for sour cream, I substitute equal measures of plain Greek yogurt. Plain yogurt has basically the same flavor as sour cream. However, here are the nutritional differences in an 8 oz serving of plain Greek yogurt vs 8 oz all-natural sour cream: calories – yogurt 140, sour cream 480; calories from fat – yogurt -0-, sour cream 360; saturated fat – yogurt -0-, sour cream 28 g; trans fat – both are at zero; cholesterol – yogurt -0-, sour cream 160 mg; protein – yogurt 23 g, sour cream 8 g; calcium – yogurt 30%, sour cream 16%. In addition, (Greek) yogurt contains 5 live active cultures, while sour cream contains none, unless specified on the label.
Replace sour cream with plain Greek yogurt when topping your baked potato. It has the same flavor and consistency, but is much more healthy, as we learned above.
Yogurt can also replace certain soft cheeses. This weekend I tried a new pasta recipe I’d seen on Food Network. I love pasta. Many people assume pasta isn’t good for you, when in reality, pasta contains complex carbohydrates, which your body converts to energy. Additionally, if you take it a step further and use organic or whole grain pasta, you have the added benefit of fiber. I know, I know, I’ve gotten side-tracked again (remember, I made no promises!), but because my mind moves quicker than my mouth or fingers, sometimes I must digress in order to make a point. So, back to the point. The recipe called for mascarpone cheese. I don’t have any in the house but wanted to try the recipe, as it also calls for spinach as a main ingredient. I love spinach (any “Florentine” recipe means it contains spinach) so I put my creative thinking cap on in order to try it. I keep plain Greek yogurt in the house, as an alternative to sour cream, so I substituted what I have on hand for the mascarpone cheese. The dish was fabulous! Plus the yogurt gave me the added health benefit of probiotics, without compromising flavor or texture.
Is yogurt part of your dietary intake?
In closing, I’d like to remind you to use your imagination and knowledge of healthy options when cooking. You can still enjoy the comfort foods you grew up with, while adding a healthy boost without compromising flavor! Be inventive. Be creative. Eat well and enjoy!
As always, if you have any tips or suggestions for future ramblings, I mean articles, feel free to contact me.
I’ll see you next time and remember: keep a smile in your heart and never, ever let the music fade!
Shauna L Bowling
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Shauna L Bowling