How healthy is your yoghurt?

Yoghurt is an “in food”, as can be witnessed by the varieties available in the supermarket.

Yoghurt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. Soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk can also be used. With this explosion of popularity of yoghurt, one would think something new has been discovered under the sun.

Actually, the benefits of yoghurt have been lauded by centuries, maybe even going back to the time of Cleopatra, who was known for her milk baths.

However, Lifestyles suggests “consumer beware”. It seems that the marketing trends are gorging on our desire for healthier foods and offer up adulterated versions of simple, wholesome foods under the labels and guise of healthy. Yoghurt is a prime example.

First of all, let’s look at why yoghurt is healthy.

Maintaining a healthy intestinal system is important for overall general health. This requires maintaining a good balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotics is the current buzz word in relation to yoghurt and many yoghurts are made using active, good bacteria.

Yoghurt comes from milk or other sources offering yoghurt eaters a dose of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.

Yoghurt may help prevent osteoporosis, according to medical research, as calcium and Vitamin D, (both found in yoghurt) offer skeletal benefits.

Yoghurt may help with weight management as it offers a smooth and creamy delightful dessert or snack.

A recent look at the varieties of yoghurt available on the shelves, as well as those reported being used by clients in Lifestyles Weight Management Programme, indicates that the vast majority of yoghurts are not so good. Many are way too high in sugar, very high in fat, and even higher in sodium.

How did such a healthy food as yoghurt become so unhealthy? A New York Times report stated that foods are purposely being produced with higher sugar, fat and sodium than ever, impacting the obesity epidemic seriously and generating an addictive quality for consumers.

What yoghurts are best?

Without naming brands, I offer the following suggestions for yoghurt selection: plain, low-fat or non-fat yoghurt is best, especially Greek yoghurt. The taste is delicious. Add your own fruit and cinnamon for taste.

Eliminate yoghurts with artificial sweeteners or colourings. Note that yoghurt that comes with fruit added gives an additional whopping amount of sugar and, therefore, calories. Check the ingredient labels of gel and squirt yoghurts, (those used for children) and really take a good look at whether the product is healthy. Be aware that crafty marketing can make a product appear healthy when it is not.

What to look for on the label: Calories per serving, sugar, fat and sodium percentage, as well as chemical additives. That leaves us basically back to which yogurt is best: plain low-fat or non-fat Greek-Style yoghurt.

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Eliminate yoghurts with artificial sweeteners or colourings.

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