It is appalling to see how yogurt dominates the entire dairy section of a grocery store nowadays. In recent years, the demand for yogurt has seen a phenomenal increase. It is due to the numerous health benefits of yogurt, that has helped this dairy product to come a long way from being just a tasty, refreshing snack to becoming a fixed item in the diet of those who are health conscious. So let us see what are the various yogurt health benefits that has contributed to the immense popularity of it.
What is Yogurt
Yogurt is obtained by curdling milk, much the same way as sour cream. However, yogurt contains much less amount of fats as compared to sour cream. To make yogurt, live and active bacteria is added to milk and left overnight. Yogurt is most commonly made from cow milk. However, it can also be prepared from the milk of buffalo and goat. There are different grades of yogurt depending upon its fat content. Some varieties are even flavored with the help of sugar, fruits or flavoring agents. For example, frozen yogurt is now being considered a healthy alternative to ice creams. Not only does it taste good but the calories in frozen yogurt makes it a tasty option of making the most of frozen yogurt health benefits. Another option is Greek yogurt. It is creamier and has a smoother texture as compared to the US varieties. Its smoother texture comes from the fact that it has a high fat content. Other than this, Greek yogurt health benefits are the same as those of other types.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
Benefits of Bacteria: Yogurt health benefits come mainly from the way it is made, i.e., by using live bacteria. Our body needs to maintain its levels of 'good' bacteria, especially in the intestines. Once the amount of these bacteria drops, we become prone to an array of infections and allergies. Benefits of eating yogurt is that it replenishes these bacteria. Bacteria in yogurt which is also termed as probiotics, strengthen our immune system by regulating lymphocytes and antibodies. Yogurt is specially beneficial for women as it prevents the annoying vaginal infection, candidiasis. This it again does by maintaining the balance of microflora in the vaginal environment. Research indicates that women who consume 4 cups of yogurt per week are less prone to vaginal or bladder infections than other women. Other than acting internally, yogurt can be used externally in the form of vaginal douches to keep the amount of Candida albicans (the yeast that causes candidiasis) in the vagina under control. Certain studies indicate that eating yogurt regularly prevents bile from converting into carcinogens. By improving the microfloral environment in the intestine, yogurt also helps in relieving constipation.
Source of Proteins: Besides being a healthy source of the good bacteria, the fact that yogurt comes from milk makes it a good source of proteins. Proteins are very important as they are the building blocks of the body. They are important to replace the worn out cells of the muscles that make up most of our body. Protein also helps in curbing our appetite. It is probably this fact that eating yogurt makes us feel full!
Reduces Lactose Intolerance: Some people are allergic to milk products as their body can't break down lactose which is the main component in dairy products. This is termed as lactose intolerance. The bacteria present in yogurt produce the enzyme lactase that metabolizes lactose in milk products. Hence for people who suffer from lactose intolerance, yogurt is a very safe and useful source of calcium from dairy products.
Enhanced Calcium Absorption: Lactic acid present in yogurt enhances absorption of calcium by the body. Certain brands of yogurt have Vitamin D added in them. We know that this vitamin is important for the absorption of calcium. Hence yogurt that has vitamin D in it, enhances calcium absorption into the bones of the body. Thus yogurt is believed to work effectively against osteoporosis.
Other than proteins and calcium, yogurt is also a good source of nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamin B2 and vitamin B12. What's even better is that the yogurt health benefits are being multiplied as certain brands add important nutrients like omega -3 fatty acids and folic acid while making yogurt.