Yogurt is a good source of calcium, riboflavin and iodine. Yogurt also contains a healthy dose of B12, B5, potassium, zinc and protein. These nutrients alone make yogurt a great addition to any diet, but yogurt has a special ingredient that can boost your health: live bacteria.
In fact, most types of yogurt these days are supplemented with probiotics. Probiotics are live microbial foods that have been shown in clinical trials to have beneficial effects on your health. Probiotics can be bacteria, molds, or yeasts, but most of them fall into the group known as “lactic acid bacteria.”
As a healing food, yogurt with probiotics could help boost your immune system, improve digestive problems like colitis, and reduce allergy symptoms (including lactose intolerance). Probiotic yogurt may also reduce the risk for certain types of cancer and even lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
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In one interesting study, a group of 17 women ate 100 grams of probiotic yogurt a day, while a second group of 16 women were given the same amount of conventional yogurt daily. This lasted for two weeks, at which point the researchers upped each group’s serving of yogurt to 200 g a day. They stayed with this diet for an additional two weeks. The study ended with a final two weeks during which both groups of women ate no yogurt.
The researchers found that the women consuming probiotic yogurt showed decreased levels of LDL cholesterol. This group also significantly boosted their HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Now — how about the women consuming the conventional yogurt without added probiotics? They also showed a drop in LDL cholesterol, but, unlike the probiotic yogurt group, there was no increase in HDL levels.
Clearly it’s time to add some of this healing food to your weekly diet. Before you head out to the grocery store, here are three tips about buying probiotic yogurt.
— Avoid pasteurization. Some yogurt is pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria, but unfortunately this process also kills beneficial bacteria, significantly lowering the health benefits of the yogurt
— Look for yogurt with live bacterial culture
— Stay away from yogurt with added sugar, artificial colors, and added fruit; add your own fresh fruit at home to get a better nutrient boost