By Chelsea Fisher
Yogurt contains acidophilus, a type of healthy bacterium that is naturally found in the digestive tract. According to the American Cancer Society, studies have found that acidophilus may have the potential to neutralize carcinogens in the digestive tract, thus reducing the risk for colon cancer. Studies have also suggested that acidophilus may help boost the immune system and lower cholesterol, which has been linked to cancer cell development, but so far these results have been found only in animal studies. Yogurt is also a great source of protein, calcium, B vitamins, and potassium.
There are many varieties of yogurt available all over the world, but the most popular are the traditional European and Greek styles of yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained and often provides more protein and a thicker, creamier consistency than the European style, which offers a less-tart taste, and a pudding-like consistency. (There are non-dairy yogurts made from soy and coconut that contain different nutritional benefits.)
Because yogurt is produced through bacterial fermentation, people who are lactose intolerant may still be able to digest it. During the fermentation process bacteria digest lactase, the enzyme found in milk, thus making it virtually lactose-free.
Always buy plain yogurt. Because yogurt is recognized as a health food staple, it is easy to grab some off the shelf without glancing at the nutrition facts, but it’s important to do so. Many flavored yogurts contain almost as much sugar as ice cream, and the ones that boast low sugar may contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Choose your own sweeteners instead, like all natural maple syrup, or a drizzle of honey. Or, just eat your yogurt with fresh fruit or fruit compote, which add natural sugars, and taste great. If you are watching your weight, buy low-fat, or fat-free yogurt, but if the opposite is true and you are trying to sustain your weight during treatment, stick to whole-milk varieties.
Yogurt can give a rich and moist consistency to many baked goods, such as our delicious Yogurt Whole Wheat Biscuits, and it does so without adding too much fat. Yogurt is also delicious used as a base for sauce like traditional cucumber and yogurt tzatziki or added to soups like our Spiced Beet & Tomato Soup. Plain yogurt is a great marinade for chicken. By simply adding spices like salt, pepper, turmeric, and cilantro with a little olive oil, and lime juice, the thick consistency of the yogurt will keep the chicken moist and flavorful through the cooking process. Yogurt can also be used to add a tart creaminess to soups, curries, and stews.