Nutritional Facts About Yogurt

Yogurt is a cool, creamy, and delicious dairy food that comes in an array of flavors and styles. It’s also an easy addition to a healthy eating pattern for kids and adults. Yogurt supplies high-quality protein, calcium, and potassium. Select varieties also contain live, active cultures that are known as “good bacteria,” or probiotics, which may support gut and immune health. Whether you are a yogurt lover or are simply curious to learn more about yogurt and how it came to be, here’s the scoop!

Yogurt has many nutrition benefits including 9 essential nutrients such as calcium, protein, phosphorus, riboflavin, Vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, zinc, selenium, and iodine. Additionally, since yogurt is made with live cultures, they contain probiotics which are good for digestive health. Yogurt can be a nutritious and important part of your healthy eating plan – read on for more about yogurt’s nutritional value and health benefits.

The Origin of Yogurt

It’s believed that yogurt resulted from a “happy accident,” when naturally occurring bacteria got into fresh milk, causing it to ferment and turn into yogurt. It’s thought that yogurt was discovered in Turkey.

How Yogurt is Made

Did you know that yogurt is made from milk through fermentation of lactic acid-producing bacteria by adding cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. As the cultures grow, the milk thickens and takes on a tangy, creamy quality. The longer the yogurt is strained, the thicker it will be like Greek or Icelandic-style yogurt. By definition, all yogurt must contain at least 8.25% milk-solids-non-fat.

Health Benefits of Yogurt

The nutritional benefits of yogurt are part of its appeal. Yogurt provides key nutrients important throughout various stages of life such as protein and other essential nutrients like calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.

Most yogurts are made with live and active cultures, and some also provide probiotics—or good bacteria—that may help maintain digestive health, boost immunity, fight infection, and protect against diseases.

Those good bacteria can offer many health benefits by aiding in the digestion of lactose, making it easier to digest if you have lactose intolerance. And strained yogurts like Greek- and Icelandic-style have even less lactose, making it a more desirable choice for those with lactose intolerance.

Greek Yogurt vs Regular Yogurt

Greek-style yogurt is thicker and creamier in texture because during the process milk solids are strained from liquid whey which gives it this signature thick consistency. Due to this straining process, Greek-style yogurt is higher in protein and slightly lower in calcium. It can be used in a sweet or savory culinary application and is very versatile in baking as well.

Exploring Healthy Yogurt Choices Across Cultural Cuisines

Yogurt is so versatile. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack. It can be used in both a sweet or savory applications, like in sauces, dressings, and dips to smoothies, yogurt frozen pops, puddings and more. And when it comes to snacking, there are so many flavors to choose from! There are so many reasons to love yogurt!

In countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, plain yogurt is on the table at every meal, often paired with sweet and savory foods. One of the most popular ways to eat yogurt is combined with fresh dill and cucumber to make tzatziki sauce, a topping for grilled meats. Yogurt is also used to make traditional soups, drinks, and even desserts. It’s no surprise that the yogurt style of choice in this region is Greek yogurt, which is yogurt that has been strained to remove some of the liquid to create a thicker, creamier yogurt.

India’s Healthy Yogurt Options

In India, yogurt is often eaten to temper the heat of spicy flavors and soothe the palate. It appears as a key ingredient in traditional dishes like curry; lassi, a smoothie-like beverage; kadhi, a yogurt-based stew; and raita, a condiment served at most meals made from full-fat yogurt that’s been combined with spices, herbs, fruits and/or vegetables.

Middle Eastern Healthy Yogurt Options

People that live in the Middle East eat yogurt regularly and often combined it with savory flavors. Here they make labneh, a yogurt dish that has a rich texture similar to whipped cream cheese. Labneh serves a tasty base for herbs, spices, lemon juice, and olive oil and is typically used as a spread, topping or dip.

French Healthy Yogurt Options

The French are known to use yogurt in baking, specifically a cake called the “gateau au yaourt,” which means yogurt cake. This simple cake is comparable to a coffee cake and is baked for everyday occasions, as well as special events like a child’s first birthday.

America’s Healthy Yogurt Options

While people in other countries favor plain yogurt made with whole milk, those in the United States often prefer sweetened, fruited, and flavored yogurt products found on grocery store shelves. We may incorporate yogurt into recipes too, but yogurt is most frequently eaten straight from a single-serve cup, as part of yogurt parfait with fruit, granola, and nuts, or in smoothies. Shopping for yogurt can also be tricky as many varieties contain added sugar. Always read labels to find the brands with minimal or no added sugar and sweeten it a touch yourself with a little honey or fresh fruit.

As you can see, this beloved dairy food has a long history and with ties to many traditional dishes that shape the unique cultures where they are served.

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