Penarth nutrition

A Sneaky Insight into the
World of Nutrition

Food Focus - Yoghurt

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that supplementing the diet with beneficial micro organisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning “for life”), could have a positive effect on our health. Certain fermented foods, such as yoghurt, contain live strains of bacteria and there is some correlation between the consumption of these foods and an improvement in health. However not all yogurts are created equal! Here is my take on why yoghurts can be a useful addition to your diet, what to look for in a yoghurt and a few ideas on how to enjoy it.

Yoghurt is made by adding bacterial cultures to milk and in the right conditions, the bacteria ferment the milk converting the milk sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yoghurt its distinctive taste and thick texture. The specific types of bacteria found in yogurt vary but the most commonly used are Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Streptoccus thermophilus.

Nutrient Content
The nutritional value of yoghurt comes from the macro and micro nutrients contained in milk. A serving of yoghurt will provide good levels of protein, calcium, B12, B5, B2 and zinc.

The protein content makes yoghurt a good food to consume as a snack, add some seeds and nuts for added fibre.

Health Benefits
It is the live bacteria that gives yoghurt its unique health benefits.

INTESTINAL HEALTH - A number of studies suggest that eating yoghurt on a regular basis can help with particular gastrointestinal conditions, including lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrheal diseases, inflammatory bowel disease and allergies.

CHOLESTEROL - A strain of bacteria called L. acidophilus, which is present in certain yogurts, was shown in some but not all studies to help to lower LDL cholesterol.

IMMUNE HEALTH – There is a strong rationale for the hypothesis that increased yogurt consumption may enhance the immune response.

Choosing Your Yoghurt
If you want to get the maximum amount of health benefit from your yoghurt here are some tips :

BACTERIA - Make sure that it contains live bacteria, it should be labelled Probiotic yogurt or Bio yogurt or state that it has ‘live bacteria’. Manufacturers will sometimes give the strain and the concentration of bacteria included in the product.

ORGANIC – Try to buy organic yoghurts as they usually have a higher nutrient quality.

NATURAL – Choose natural yoghurt and you can control how much sugar and / or fruit that is added.

PROTEIN – Zero % Greek yoghurt contains around 10g of protein per 100g compared to 4 to 5g of protein per 100g in a standard natural yoghurt. So if you are looking for a protein boost go Greek!

LABEL – As with all food products always read the label as just because the yoghurt is labelled ‘healthy’ does not necessarily mean that it is! Look at the ingredient list and check for added sugar / sweeteners or anything that you don’t recognise as food! As a general rule the more ingredients a food contains the more processed it is and the less it will benefit your health.

Recipes (all using natural yoghurt)

Pancakes made with yoghurt instead of milk are delicious
Use yoghurt instead of milk with your muesli
Add to a smoothie for a quick and healthy start to the day

Mix yogurt, lemon juice and black pepper with fish such a mackerel to make a delicious pate
Add chopped cucumber and mint to yogurt and use as a salad dressing
Blob into a bowl of soup for extra creaminess
Add to roasted squash with black pepper
Mix with scrambled eggs
Add to curries / goulash / risotto

Yoghurt makes a great snack on its own but try adding nuts, seeds, berries, dried fruit or a little honey.
There are lots of ideas on how to use yogurt in your cooking on the following web sites


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