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Healthy yogurt

12 January 2014 / 16:01:52  GRReporter
2373 reads

Yogurt is among the foods with the highest nutritional value and has great health benefits.

However, there is a "trap", since this beneficial food can easily become junk food. Even if you omit the obviously harmful choices such as yogurt with crushed cookies or caramel syrup, there are types of yogurt which contain a lot of sugar and calories.

With so many options available in stores, how can we be sure that we have made the right choice? Here is a way to find out...

Prefer plain yogurt

Yogurt is made only of milk and two live bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus), which make milk sour. Afterwards, a lot of ingredients which give it flavour can be added, such as sugar or some fruit. Avoid products containing a lot of added ingredients with names which are difficult to pronounce, such as hydrogenated fats or artificial sweeteners, which are not usually found in yogurt.

Look for good bacteria

Probiotics (good bacteria) are key ingredients of yogurt and similar to the bacteria which live in our digestive system. Studies have shown that they help digestion and intestine health. Paradoxically, they are not contained in all yogurts which are sold. In order to make milk more durable, some companies process yogurt thermally which kills bacteria - beneficial or not.

Keep in mind the calcium content

Yogurt is a very rich source of calcium for the bones, but the amount differs for various brands. Choose yogurt which has at least 15% of the recommended daily dose of calcium (which is about 1,000 mg for adults).

Be careful with sugar

Try to reduce sugar intake. Do not just trust the label. Yogurt contains a certain percentage of natural milk sugar known as lactose and sugar content indicated on the label includes both natural and added sugars. Avoid products in which sugar is the first or second ingredient.

Caution for artificial fruits

The best thing you can do is to add fresh fruit to plain yogurt. However, if you buy ready-made yogurt with fruit, check the ingredients and avoid yogurt with added sugars. Yogurt may contain only a mixture of sugar and food colouring, or juice.

Do not be afraid of fats

If you choose skimmed milk yogurt you can reduce calories and saturated fats. But "skimmed" does not necessarily mean low in calories, since many types of skimmed yogurt contain a lot of sugar. Choose yogurt which is sweetened with real fruit or try adding a spoon of honey to skimmed yogurt.

If you prefer yogurt with a high fat content, choose yogurt with a 1% or 2% fat content. According to new data, saturated fats in dairy products may not be all bad. For example, a 2011 study conducted by Brown University shows that the consumption of dairy products is not associated with a risk of heart failure, probably because there are other protective nutrients which balance the effects of saturated fats.

Read labels carefully

Fortunately, you can easily see whether yogurt contains additional probiotics, since this is listed on the label. Living micro-organisms are added to yogurt in order to increase its usefulness. Probiotics are still being studied. Yogurt containing more probiotics is not necessarily the best.

Tags: yogurt probiotics bacteria fats calcium
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