Top 5 Best Probiotic Yogurts
Yogurt is a fermented milk product made through bacterial fermentation of milk. Different types of milk can be used in creating yogurt, with cow’s milk being the preferred milk to use. Depending on the part of the world, other types of milk used in making yogurt include those from goats, mares, yaks, and camels. The bacteria that is used in making yogurt is known as “yogurt cultures.” The lactose fermentation then results in the production of lactic acid.
Yogurt is made using a culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. Other lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are also sometimes added in during or after the culturing of the yogurt. In Western culture, the milk is first heated to get rid of any unwanted bacteria and to denature the milk proteins in order for them to set together.
Most accounts would place Central Asia as the birthplace of yogurt in the Neolithic period. The milk may have been unintentionally infected by contact with plants or the bacteria may have been moved through the udder of animals that produce milk.
There have been many records regarding yogurt over time. In ancient Indian records, the mixture of honey and yogurt is referred to as “the food of the gods.” Persian conventions say that Abraham’s longevity was due to his regular intake of yogurt. Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and natural philosopher, has commented on how some nations knew how to “thicken the milk into a substance with an agreeable acidity.”
Yogurt was a mainstay in the diets of the people in Central Asia, South Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and India up to the 1990s. It was only introduced in the United States during the first decade of the twentieth century. It was first made available in the form of a tablet and was primarily for those with digestive intolerance. By the late twentieth century, it had become a common food item.
There are different kinds of yogurt: the traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, and soy yogurt, among others. Greek yogurt differs from the traditional yogurt by the way it is processed. While traditional yogurt is strained two times, Greek yogurt is strained thrice. This gives it its creamy texture. The whey is taken out during the straining process which is why it may only give less than the daily calcium needs. The upside, though, is that Greek yogurt has more protein per serving.
Frozen yogurt usually doesn’t have any live and active cultures, making them tastier compared to other types. While this means that it won’t benefit digestion, the probiotics are still in the yogurt even after the freezing process. Soy yogurt is soy-based, making it a good option for vegans and vegetarians. The amounts of probiotics, calories, and protein are pretty much the same with other yogurt types.
What to Look For in Yogurt
Yogurt is generally a nutritious and tasty snack, but not every yogurt may be actually healthy. There are certain things to look out for when looking to buy yogurt.
Yogurt products differ according to the amount of milk they contain. Regular yogurt may contain at least 3.25 percent milk fat, while low-fat yogurt generally have the same amount of milk fat as the milk they are made from, and fat-free yogurt is made from skim milk.
Yogurt can often be found mixed with certain flavouring and they may also contain fruit preserves that are fresh, frozen, or dried. Two common yogurt types are sundae-style which has the fruit at the bottom, and blended-style where the fruit is mixed into the yogurt.
Look at the label to know which specific active cultures are contained in that particular yogurt.
There are a lot that can be added into a yogurt such as additional dairy products to increase the nutrition or improve flavour: caloric sweeteners such as syrup, sugar, honey, and fruit juice concentrate; and artificial sweeteners such as neotame or aspartame, which are more common in “diet,” “sugar free,” and “no sugar added” varieties of yogurt.
Keep in mind that a serving of yogurt should typically contain:
- Less than 180 calories. Although, those aiming for weight loss should look for yogurt with around 120 calories per serving.
- Less than 4 grams of fat. Those made with whole milk contain around 7-9 grams of fat and low-fat yogurt would have 2-4 grams.
- Less than 30 grams of sugar. The milk used will typically contain around 12 grams of milk sugar, but there could possibly be other added sugars and sweeteners added to the yogurt so it is best to read the ingredients list to know what a particular yogurt product contains.
- At least 5 grams of protein, 20% of the daily value of calcium, and at least 10% of the daily value of vitamin D.
What to avoid in Yogurt
Beware of yogurt with processed sugars. They are unhealthy and can potentially cause inflammation. Keep in mind that the sugar serving should be less than 15 grams. Also avoid yogurts with artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.
Health benefits of Yogurt
Yogurt is nutritionally rich in calcium, riboflavin, protein, vitamin B6, and B12. It can be more tolerable for lactose-intolerant people because the lactose in the milk is transformed to galactose and glucose and then moderately fermented to lactic acid. Yogurts that contain live cultures are known to be effective at averting antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Various yogurts also contain different levels of fat.
Yogurt is a valued healthy food item for people of all ages. Children can get a balanced intake of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals. It may also be a good choice for those elderly people with sensitive colons or for those who do not produce much lactase anymore. Yogurt also helps in avoiding osteoporosis and reducing the danger of high blood pressure. It may also discourage vaginal infections.
Calcium has been known to have beneficial effects on bone mass. Combined with vitamin D, it gives a skeletal benefit. Yogurt is made with increased vitamin D, which makes it valuable in preventing osteoporosis. Dairy intake also helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure. This is especially true for low-fat milk. The low-fat variant of yogurt is believed to have the same effect.
Yogurt with active cultures may also potentially help with certain gastrointestinal infections, including colon cancer, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and H. pylori infection. This is said to be caused by the changes in the microflora in the gut, the time yogurt takes to go through the bowel, and the enhancements in the immune system. A study has also found that yogurt may help a person feel fuller. There were low hunger ratings and high fullness ratings. This is especially helpful for those seeking to lose weight.
Top 5 Probiotic Yogurt Strands
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus – is a member of the family microflora that is able to fend off harmful bacteria that may attack the digestive system. It is one of the symbiotic micro-organisms that are able to shrink and reproduce. It resides in the intestinal mucosa, the mucous membrane that lines the gastrointestinal tract. It is tough enough to endure the acidic digestive juices that are produced by the stomach. It is able to utilize simple sugars and create EPS, which helps slow down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. It works in conjunction with Streptococcus Thermophilus.
- Streptococcus Thermophilus – is a strong probiotic strain that is commonly found in the colon. It helps improve digestion by decreasing ulcerative colitis symptoms, decreasing leaky gut symptoms, reducing antibiotic associated diarrhea, and improving lactose digestion. It improves immunity by decreasing symptoms of AIDS, preventing ulcers, fighting Clostidium difficile, and warding off upper respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Other health benefits include increasing HDL, increasing anti-tumor activity, decreasing the chance of kidney stones, decreasing baby colic, and reducing atopic dermatitis symptoms.
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus – is one of the most commonly used probiotics that promote health. It plays a key role in the digestion of dairy products while generating vitamin K, which is vital to proper blood clotting and bone formation and fixing. It also produces lactase that helps break down the sugar in milk, averts diarrhea, decreases overgrowth of pathogens in the digestive tract, decreases occurrence of vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections, relieves irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and gut dysbiosis, and increases immune response.
- Lactobacillus Casei – is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the human gut, as well as in fermented food such as yogurt. Strains of this probiotic have been found to be helpful in treating gastrointestinal issues, either on their own or together with other probiotics. Various studies have found different effects, such as significant improvement in beverage consumption for those with chronic constipation, and lesser cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Other health benefits include helping improve digestion, reducing lactose intolerance, and modulation of the immune system.
- Acidophillus Bifidus – is a probiotic blend that is a combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus microflora. Bifidobacteria is essential for steady bowel movements, keeping pathogens away from the blood stream, and processing waste. They also produce B vitamins and fight antibiotic side effects. It increases the acidity of a region in the large intestine to help maintain healthy bacteria while making the area uninhabitable for dangerous bacteria.