Sunday, July 2, 2017

Yogurt and health benefits

Are you eating some yogurt every day?  You should be.  Researchers are finding more and more health benefits to eating yogurt.  When teaching nutrition, I give the students nutrition “homework” focused on healthier eating habits.  One big piece of dietary advice is to add yogurt to their day.  My husband has added yogurt to his breakfast meal as he finds his breakfast seems to last longer and stave off those morning hunger pains.  I like yogurt at lunch.  Even on vacation, we bring our yogurt or find a store to buy some so we don’t miss our “daily dose” of yogurt.

Should you buy low fat or regular yogurt?
Consumer Reports has an interesting article, Is Whole-Milk Yogurt a Whole Lot Better? 
  1. Taste – some people prefer the taste of whole-milk yogurt and for many it has a richer, creamier taste.  I am so used to low-fat yogurt that whole-milk yogurt seems too rich for me. 
  2.  Is Whole-Milk yogurt healthier?  Most nutritionists and the American Heart Association recommend cutting back on saturated fat.  Whole Milk would have more saturated fat than low-fat or non-fat yogurt.  But Consumer Reports notes some of the latest research shows some health advantages to whole-milk yogurt.  The article noted those that ate whole-fat yogurt had similar triglyceride levels to those eating low-fat yogurt. 
Why is yogurt such a great health food?
Yogurt has many health benefits and is loaded with healthy nutrients, as noted in The Benefits of Yogurt
  1. Protein – Eggs are the “gold standard” for protein but milk is a close second.  The protein in milk and in yogurt is a very high-quality protein.  And a 6 ounce serving of yogurt provides about 9 grams of high-quality protein.  And the protein in yogurt can help you feel full longer.
  2. Calcium – so many people aren’t drinking milk so adding yogurt to your day is a good way to add some calcium to your day.
  3. Vitamin D – most yogurt is fortified with vitamin D, which many Americans aren’t getting enough of.
  4. Other nutrients – potassium, B-2, B-12, and magnesium
  5. Probiotics – one of the great things about yogurt is the probiotics. So much research is being done on how these “friendly bacteria” have health benefits.  These “friendly bacteria” may enhance your immune systems and help you have a healthy digestive tract.
  6. Lowering blood pressure – maybe it’s the potassium or maybe other components of yogurt. But studies have found that eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day can reduce one’s risk of developing high blood pressure.
  7. Consumer Reports noted that eating yogurt is linked to lower risk of many health conditions, including lower risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity even a lower risk of weight gain.
What to look for when buying yogurt?

Package size:  Look at package size and choose yogurts that are 8 ounces or at least 6 ounces.  Many yogurt manufacturers are cutting their package size and cutting the size means cutting the nutrients.  The brand I used to buy was 6 ounces and then the manufacturer cut the package to 5.3 ounces so I stopped buying it and now choose another brand that is still 6 ounces.  Why?  Because I want the protein, calcium and other nutrients a 6-ounce serving provides. 

Sugars – all yogurt will have “sugar” as the milk it is made from has lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk.  But many manufacturers add a lot of sugar.  It is the “added sugar” we need to be aware of.  Read the ingredients to see if sugar is added.  Consumer Reports found that the Brown Cow strawberry yogurt had the highest sugar content and ingredients included 3 types of “added sugars”:  cane sugar, honey and maple syrup.  Some people try to avoid artificial sweeteners but if you don’t, then Nutrasweet can lead to a pretty good tasting light yogurt.

Probiotics – look for “active” cultures to get the best benefits of probiotics.  Look on the package for the words, “live and active cultures”. 

Adding things to your yogurt can give it a bigger nutritional boost.  WebMD recommends adding a “tablespoon of ground flaxseed” to your yogurt to add fiber and some healthy omega-3 fats.  Add some fresh fruit, like blueberries or raspberries, to add some antioxidants to your yogurt.  Add some mandarin orange slices to boost the vitamin C.  Make a smoothie using yogurt.  Bring some yogurt with you to work.  My 10 AM snack at work was some yogurt.  A great morning or afternoon pick me up.


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