Glass with yogurt Glass with yogurt

Yogurt – a healthy choice

Brief history of yogurt

Though we can’t trace the origin of yogurt, we know that its use is very old.  In the 7th century yogurt was mentioned in a medical book as being a food that promotes freshness, calmness and good intestinal health. Also in the 2nd century BCE Galen describes this food as being helpful for purifying the excess of bile in the gallbladder, and in stomach problems. This enhanced its reputation for being easier to digest than milk. Dioscorides used to prescribe yogurt as a medicine in the treatment of liver mal-function, tuberculosis and as a general depurative (ie: cleansing from impurities). In the beginning of the 20th century yogurt was sold in pharmacies, being considered a medicine. In 1908 the Nobel Prize winner llya Metchinikoff isolated bacteria from yogurt cultures relating some of them to longevity and the maintenance of a healthy immune system.

Nutritional benefits of yogurt

Yogurt’s popularity is increasing and its daily consumption is becoming more popular for the majority of the population.  This is explained by its rich nutrients and healthy bacteria, as well as being accessible and adaptable to today’s life-styles.
Yogurt comes from milk, and is obtained by the fermentation of two bacteria:  Streptococcus Thermophilus and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. These two are responsible for thickening the milk into yogurt, and for promoting a good intestinal balance (Food and Drug Administration – FDA).
Its nutritional value relies on the high quality of the nutrients. Yogurt is mainly rich in proteins, minerals such as Calcium, and vitamins. It has a balanced composition of ‘fats’, and can be produced low in sugar and fat suitable for weight-loss diets. We could also consider it a very functional food.

Functional Food – Pro-biotics

Functional Food is food that besides providing nutrition, also has a positive health effect. In yogurt, this is achieved by the addition of good bacteria, also known as pro-biotics. The benefits of pro-biotics include the control of intestinal infections, improvement of intestinal motility thereby giving relief from constipation, better absorption of nutrients, alleviation of lactose intolerance, decreased levels of cholesterol and effects of carcinogenic, plus stimulation of the immune system by increasing antibody protection against pathogenic micro-organisms in the gut.
Yogurt’s healthy bacteria are also recognized as helpful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, Travelers' diarrhea, and dermatitis in children due to food allergies. It is important to mention that these bacteria only take effect if they reach a minimum level of viable bacteria (that is, bacteria that are in a state of very low metabolic activity but are alive and have the ability to reproduce once restimulated) when the product is being consumed.

Soy Yogurt

As an alternative to the common milk-based yogurt, soy yogurt is been emerging in the food industry as an option that contains certain benefits, such as being: low fat, lactose free, dairy free, suitable for vegetarians and vegans or simply as a new experience. Due to the beneficial properties of soy nutrients, its yogurt is even more rich and healthy than the dairy ones due to the combination of soy properties and pro-biotic bacteria. Soymilk is suitable for yogurt-making due to the presence of raffinose and stachyose, oligosaccharides and some amino acids and peptides. So Soy Yogurt can be as suitable in a daily diet as the traditional Yogurt.
yogurt-makerThese yogurts can be bought in local food stores or they can be home made. Home-made yogurts represent a healthier, fun and cheaper option. With a yogurt-maker you can make high quality low cost yogurt. You can even make it cheaper if you also make your soy milk with a soybean milk-maker at home. You can also use your yogurt-maker with any dairy product.

Insert date: 2013-10-25 Last update: 2013-10-28

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Authors > Contributor writers > Cristina Rodrigues