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It’s believed that yogurt was developed by accident—its fermentation was a result of milk stored in warm climates. But this is a happy accident, because yogurt offers many nutritional benefits and is a versatile, tasty addition to a healthy diet. Whether you need a quick burst of protein after a vigorous workout or a quick snack between meetings, there are many styles of yogurt to suit any palate.

Think beyond the simple yogurt and spoon, too. Jazz up dessert at your next dinner party by featuring fruit kebobs with lemon yogurt sauce. Serve a cooling salad of diced cucumbers and yogurt with spicy chicken. Create a mango curry cream to add Indian flair to lamb or pork. Whip up a tasty smoothie featuring apricots, yogurt, and skim milk.

Identification

Depending on where you shop, you can find a variety of yogurts. Yogurts usually have a dedicated number of shelves in the dairy section of your grocery. Greek yogurt is a popular choice for its rich texture and taste, because it has less water. You’ll often find it in a wide, short container. Swiss yogurt, also known as stirred yogurt, has a thin, smooth texture that some people consider best for desserts. It’s usually sold in small, narrow cylinders. Balkan yogurt, also known as set yogurt, is thick like Greek yogurt, and is made in individual cups instead of large vats. On the shelf, you might find it in a short container or a wide-mouthed large container.

Taste

Most varieties of plain yogurt often have a tangy, mellow flavor. The texture and creaminess of yogurt depend on how it is processed and the type of milk used. Some people prefer to use different types of yogurt for certain recipes. For example, Swiss-style or stirred yogurt is often used for desserts, whereas Balkan-style or set yogurt is preferred for adding body to meat sauces, and Greek-style yogurt is tasty on the end of your spoon.

Availability

Yogurt is readily available in US and European markets.

Season

There isn’t a particular season for yogurt—it’s available all year long. If you prefer raw yogurt or other options from local farms, you may have more success at farmers’ markets during early spring.

Selection

When you visit a grocery’s yogurt shelves, there are so many wonderful flavors from which to choose! But beware: some of the more fanciful yogurt varieties may have a lot of protein, but they’re also packed with artificial flavor and sugar, completely negating the nutritional value of the protein.

Consider purchasing plain yogurt and adding fresh fruit, granola, nuts, and other nutritious treats from your pantry.

Organic Benefits

Some studies indicate that organic products have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised products.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a Food Scores consumer guide providing information for the most nutritious organic products. The Food Scores scale ranges from 1 to 10, and the lower the score, the better the product. For yogurt, the guidelines for organic products include milk sourced from grass-fed dairy cows, and many popular plain yogurts feature a score of 3.5 or lower.

The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown nutritious products when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.

Storage

Pay close attention to the expiration date on the container; this ensures you’ll receive the most benefits from yogurt’s active cultures. Keep purchased yogurt in its original container in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Keep it on the cold shelves, and not in the door.

Once you open yogurt, eat it within three days. Do not eat yogurt past the “best by” date.

Preparation

A container of yogurt is perfect for when you’re on-the-run and need a healthy snack. Keep in mind that yogurt should remain refrigerated until ready to eat. Then, pop the top and enjoy!

You can add yogurt as a sauce to a number of dishes, including hot, savory meals that feature lamb or chicken. Also consider using yogurt as a base for salad dressing or dip. For a sweet treat, make a yogurt parfait by layering it with your favorite fruits and nuts

Nutrition Summary

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral responsible for building dense bones and teeth, muscle contractions, neurotransmitter health, and cardiovascular health.

Phosphorus

Provides structural support to DNA and RNA, works with calcium in the formation of tooth enamel and bone, helps to filter wastes out of the kidneys, and regulates energy. Phosphorus also plays an integral role in cardiovascular health and repairing cells and tissues throughout the body.

B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is helpful for metabolism, aiding in fatty acid energy release. Vitamin B2 is also important for metabolizing proteins, ketone bodies, and carbohydrates.

B12

Vitamin B12 is also known as the energy vitamin, important for metabolizing all macronutrients (fats, protein, and carbohydrates) and transforming them into useable energy. Vitamin B12 also plays an integral role in cognitive function and the nervous system.

Zinc

Zinc offers a host of health benefits, aiding the body’s sense of taste, vision, and smell, and also plays a role in blood clotting, thyroid and metabolism health, and insulin sensitivity. This abundant mineral is also helpful for promoting immune system health and skin repair.

Health Benefits & Medical Claims

Considered a good source of protein, some yogurts also contain a number of probiotics, including Lactobacillus casei, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidus. Probiotics help regulate your digestive system and immune system. Look for a “live and active cultures” seal to ensure the most probiotic benefits from yogurt. Many yogurts also have ample B vitamins that provide energy and boost cognitive function. A cup of yogurt contains nearly half of your daily requirement of calcium, as well. If you have a tendency for lactose intolerance, yogurt contains lactic acid and lesser amounts of lactose than other dairy products, so you may not react as strongly.

Little Known Facts
  1. Yogurt, or yoghurt, as it is sometimes spelled, originated in Central Asia and the Middle East about 6,000 years ago.
  2. Milk from goats, sheep, camels, and cows can be used to make yogurt.
  3. Turkish immigrants introduced Americans to yogurt in the 1700s.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.