Six Ways to Get the Most Out of Yogurt’s Health Benefits
Although “curative properties” were attributed to yogurt in the Middle Ages, it was not until early in the 20th century that yogurt’s health benefits became more accepted. This was as a result of research by the Nobel Prize winning Russian bacteriologist, Elie Metchnikoff, who linked Bulgarians’ long life span to their intake of yogurt. Since then, accumulating research has shown that consuming yogurt positively influences diet quality, helps reduce symptoms caused by lactose malabsorption, has a potentially beneficial role in weight management, and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.
The following are some tips to help you get the most out of yogurt’s health benefits and choose yogurts that are best for you.
- Look for the “Live & Active Cultures” seal on yogurt products. This seal, developed by the National Yogurt Association, helps identify yogurts (refrigerated and frozen) with significant amounts of live and active cultures at the time of manufacture. The seal program is voluntary and some companies may choose not to use it even if their yogurt products contain high levels of live and active cultures. It’s therefore important to check the ingredients list on yogurt packages for the presence of live and active cultures.
- Check the Nutrition Facts Label. This label can be used to compare the nutritional profiles of yogurts and help select the yogurt that best meets your needs. Not all yogurts are equal. Some yogurts have more calories and higher amounts of sugar and fat than others. Pay attention to serving sizes as single serving containers range from 4 (1/2 cup) to 8 (1 cup) ounces. Confused about the Nutrition Facts Panel on food products? To learn more about this tool and how it can help you make smarter food choices, visit the U.S. Food and Drug website.
- Consider Adding Your Own Ingredients. If you are watching the amount of sugar, fat, or calories in your diet, choose plain, nonfat yogurt and add your own fresh fruit, unsweetened granola, nuts, or seeds.
- Include yogurt at breakfast. Yogurt is a good source of high-quality protein. To optimize the body’s use of protein, some experts recommend that protein intake be spread more evenly at meals and snacks throughout the day. Americans’ protein intake is typically uneven, with relatively little consumed at breakfast and most at dinner.
- Make yogurt your go-to snack. As the lines between snacks and meals are blurring and consumers are seeking healthier snacks, yogurt is an accessible, easy-to-digest, tasty, nutrient-rich dairy food that can be substituted for many commonly consumed nutrient-poor, high-calorie snack foods such as chips and crackers.
- Try new yogurt recipes. Quick and easy yogurt recipes that deliver great taste and nutrition are found on National Dairy Council and the Milk Means More websites.