YOGHURT, A NATURAL BOOST FOR GUT HEALTH

by Tia
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There are certain foods that as you eat them, you are innately aware that they are truly good for you.  Nutrient-dense yoghurt is such as food.  It is delicious and satisfying, filling you with a sense of health and wellness.

Like other dairy products, yoghurt is a versatile food with a unique and substantial nutritional profile.  It offers not just high-quality protein but is also a source of essential micro-nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, as well as vitamins A, B12 and 2.

We trust yoghurt is good for us, but how well do you know your yoghurt?

Yoghurt production involves the fermentation of milk using beneficial bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which are referred to as ‘live cultures’.  Also known as friendly bacteria’, these micro-organisms are the mainstay of your gut health, underpinning immune function and affecting your mood. The probiotic effect of yoghurt also aids digestion.

According to registered dietitian, Monique Piderit, “There is a wide range of studies that attest to positive impact of regular consumption of yoghurt.  Notably, the country’s food-based dietary guidelines recommend daily consumption of yoghurt, milk, and maas. In yoghurt-making, the lactose in milk is broken down into lactic acid during fermentation.  This significantly reduces lactose content of yoghurt and means that even those with lactose intolerance can safely consume it. The special yoghurt fermentation process also enhances product shelf life and food safety.” 

South African consumers are particularly spoilt for choice when it comes to yoghurt including plain or flavoured, Greek-style or double cream yoghurt, and children’s yoghurt as well as a range of yoghurts with different fat content.

Monique says, “South African consumers can choose from five fat content categories of yoghurts defined by both international and local regulations. Fat content depends on the type of milk used.  Double-cream yoghurt typically has 6.5g fat per 100g while full-fat or full-cream has around 3.4g fat per 100g.  Medium-fat yoghurts usually contain 2.4g fat per 100g, while low-fat means there is about 1.5g of fat per 100g.  Yoghurt labelled ‘fat-free’ has less than 0.5g of fat per 100g.  It is a common misconception that double-cream and full-cream yoghurts are high in energy. They are in fact much lower in fat, 4.5g or 3.3 to 4.5g compared to high-fat foods such as boerewors or a chocolate bar that may contain 20 to 30g of fat per 100g. In this context, all yoghurts are what we regard as relatively low in fat.”

How yoghurt supports healthy lifestyles

Local and international studies show that regular consumption of yoghurt may reduce the risks of overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardio-vascular disease.  When it comes to supporting gut health, regular consumption of yoghurt can make a difference in increasing microbial diversity and reducing chronic inflammation with far-reaching effects on your body’s overall resilience and your mental well-being.

How to increase your yoghurt consumption

Versatile yoghurt can be a perfect daily snack food as well as the basic or hero ingredient in smoothies and salads, plant-based bowls and meaty wraps, curries and healthy breads and muffins.

Here are some yoghurt recipe ideas from Rediscover Dairy:

Yoghurt Parfait – Layer plain yoghurt with fresh fruits and granola topped with chopped mint for a nutritious breakfast or snack.

Yoghurt & Seasonal Fruit Smoothie Bowl: Blend yoghurt with a choice of seasonal fruits. Create alternate layers of nuts, seeds, and honey topped with the yoghurt fruit blend for a refreshing and satisfying meal.

Spicy Greek Yoghurt Dip: Blend Greek-style yoghurt or double-cream yoghurt with herbs and add your favourite spices such as cumin and smoked paprika, as well as chilies, crushed garlic and a squeeze of lime for a flavourful dip. Enjoy with vegetable crudités such as cucumber wedges, celery stalks, mange tout, carrot sticks or baby tomatoes.

Yoghurt Smoothie – Quick and easy to prepare, blend plain yoghurt, a swirl of honey and any fruit, such as apple or banana slices, or whole berries.  This nutrient dense smoothie is perfect for on-the-go breakfast, school and work lunch boxes or as a healthy snack.

Fruit Yoghurt Lollies – Try a blend of a seasonal fresh fruit, plain full-cream yoghurt with light touches of muscovado sugar, honey and vanilla extract for a delicious, healthy treat that the whole family will love.

Catch Rediscover Dairy in conversation with Professor Corinna Walsh on their new podcast.  Award-winning nutrition researcher, Professor Walsh will be sharing her expertise on the role of fermented foods such as yoghurt and amasi in our diets, and the impact of gut health on overall wellness. You can download the Rediscover Dairy Podcast here: https://www.rediscoverdairy.co.za/podcasts/ or find it on all major podcasting platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more, from 27 March 2024.

For more dairy inspiration, visit https://www.rediscoverdairy.co.za/

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