Yoghurt is a superfood, according to a dietitian

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There’s no textbook definition of a superfood. But if there were, yoghurt would come pretty close. 

Dairy foods, on the whole, are downright delicious and they are also extremely healthy – the evidence doesn’t lie.

Dairy foods provide a nutritional punch! They contain over 10 nutrients important for our general health, nervous system and muscle function and, of course, bone health. More specifically, dairy foods are a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B12, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous, as well as protein and low GI carbohydrates.

So eliminating dairy foods unnecessarily from your diet means you’ll be missing out on more than just calcium.

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But let’s take a closer look at yoghurt and why it’s so super.

Yoghurt is a fermented dairy food that is made by adding live cultures to milk. It sounds like a Year 9 science experiment, but don’t let its production deter you.

In fact, it means that yoghurt is full of gut-loving bacteria. These probiotics offer a wide variety of health benefits. Certain bacterial strains frequently found in yoghurt have been found to aid digestion and assist with immune function. Yoghurt probiotics help to prevent constipation and synthesise vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting. Further, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, commonly found in yoghurt, help to lower LDL cholesterol, thereby improving heart health.

But the benefits extend beyond its probiotic capabilities.

Nutrition in yoghurt

Yoghurt is also a wonderful source of protein. A 200g tub of natural yoghurt will provide 7g of muscle-building protein, while some Greek yoghurt contains almost double that. The protein in yoghurt is mostly casein, however, it also contains a small amount of whey. Both casein and whey protein are valuable sources of protein as they help the body to absorb certain minerals, and boost muscle growth. So downing a tub of high-quality yoghurt makes it the perfect post-workout snack. Moove over (pun intended) protein shakes.

Better yet, most people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy a small amount of yoghurt without any negative consequences. This is because the microbes digest some of the lactose.

Yoghurt is also a fabulous source of a number of key nutrients, including phosphorous, riboflavin and vitamin B12. It really does tick so many boxes, not to mention that it’s delicious and versatile to use. You can add it to your smoothie, breakfast cereal, curries, lentil dhal, tacos and pancakes… The list goes on. Or you can just eat it straight from the tub.

On a side note, it’s troubling to note that most of the population does not meet their recommended intake of dairy foods. Rates of osteoporosis are incredibly high in the elderly population, which may be due to a lifetime of poor dairy intake. It’s easy to forget that osteoporosis is actually a young person’s disease that typically manifests later in life. So, now is the time to be loading up on dairy foods.

Better get some yoghurt on your spoon then.

How to choose the right yoghurt

Choosing a yoghurt with minimal ingredients is key. Plain and unsweetened varieties with live and active cultures are the best choice. Plus, selecting one that has little to no sugar added should be a top priority. But don’t forget that lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in milk, so there will be a small amount of sugar present.

As for the fat content, well, that’s a personal choice. The current literature suggests that the fat found in dairy foods does not impact weight or cholesterol levels. That’s udderly fantastic news for full cream dairy fans!

Joel Feren or ‘The Nutrition Guy’ is a highly regarded Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist with a background in the biomedical sciences.

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