Find yourself in the dairy aisle considering a good yogurt? The choices can be a little overwhelming – with extra-creamy and fancy fruit and coffee flavors – but one thing is for certain: Yogurt does a body good!
Yogurt is known as a superstar for digestive health, proteins, and new research highlights yogurt for preventing high blood pressure and diabetes – handy! – once you know some of the nutritional facts about yogurt, you’ll be eating it daily. Choose a quality, plain yogurt (the fewer ingredients listed, the better) without added sweeteners and flavorings. Then add in your own fresh berries and honey or a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
You can have it straight up in a bowl or add some to your oatmeal or waffle topping. It’s great, too, with some fresh herbs cut in as a dip for raw vegetables or as a marinade for chicken before baking or grilling.
See how tasty your good health can be?
Benefits of yogurt for digestive health
Let’s start with this tangy tonic for digestion, its most reputed benefit, thanks to yogurt’s healthy probiotics. These are the beneficial bacteria – similar to the good bacteria living in your digestive tract – that help us digest our food, make vitamins, boost our immune system and protect us from harmful pathogens.
Cultured or fermented yogurt is soured and thickened by adding certain lactic acid-producing cultures or probiotics to milk. Then additional cultures are often added which improve yogurt’s gut-friendly health powers even more. So you do get a bona fide superfood in yogurt for digestion and overall health.
You need to keep your gut in good working order. Studies have now established a concrete connection between gut bacteria and brain function, and the effectiveness of probiotic supplementation.
Gastroenterologists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2013 scanned the brains of study participants before and after a four-week course of daily consumption of probiotic-enhanced fermented milk, comparing results to a control group which didn’t consume the supplement. Participants were shown photos of people with different facial expressions, including anger and fear, and researchers analyzed the brain’s processing and response.
They found that those who had consumed the probiotic drink perceived negative emotions as less threatening and had a decreased brain response to stress. We know stress can do a number on our mental and physical health, sucker-punching our immune system and making day-to-life pretty miserable. So keeping our gut healthy with daily probiotics (and yogurt for digestive health) should be on your to-do list.
Yogurt for preventing high blood pressure
When it comes to nutritional facts about yogurt, things are looking up for your heart. Yogurt contains the very things that may help to prevent or manage cardiovascular disease risk factors like high blood pressure: Essential nutrients as well as proteins and certain peptides.
The link between dairy and the risk for cardiovascular disease and hypertension has been a focus in the scientific community in the past couple years, which we can applaud. Instead of turning to prescription pills, food therapy is a safe and natural way to help control your blood pressure.
One noted clinical trial from the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last May, reported the addition of just four servings of dairy each day eventually lowered the blood pressure of middle-aged and older study participants.
Pre-diabetic? Eat more yogurt
With diabetes on the rise, we need to watch our dietary habits (and keep our activity levels up, too). Some foods are certainly better than others when it comes to diabetes prevention and blood sugar control, but new research is pointing to yogurt as a powerful protector.
A 2014 study from Harvard School of Public Health, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), looked specifically at yogurt and diabetes risk. Findings revealed a strong link between yogurt consumption and a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes – eating yogurt could stop diabetes from ever developing in the first place.
How much yogurt is enough yogurt? Harvard researchers found that just eating a 28 g serving (about two tablespoons) of yogurt each day was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Not bad news at all!
Try yogurt for a better smile
You’ve been told to “say cheese” for those family photos, but the real boost for a healthy smile is another dairy favorite: Yogurt.
Among all of its many health benefits, yogurt is good for your teeth and your breath. It’s packed with proteins and calcium, contributing to the strength of tooth enamel and the reduction of cavities.
Its good-for-you bacteria can also reduce the presence of hydrogen sulphide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs that can result from bacterial breakdown of organic matter (like the bits of food that get stuck in our teeth). This naturally-occurring gas is one of the main causes of bad breath. So as long as you commit to eating yogurt several times a week, and keep on top of flossing and brushing, you’ll have a healthier mouth and fresher breath.
While you’ve been enjoying this popular food for its tangy taste and creamy texture, yogurt has been giving your health a real lift. Yogurt for digestion, for lowering blood pressure, diabetes prevention – there’s more than a few reasons to get your daily serving. After all, the right food is good medicine. Eat and enjoy!