Yogurt has become one of the most hailed foods for maintaining a healthy diet and getting good nutrition. If you check any grocery store, you are likely to find that yogurt accounts for more than half of the dairy section. Manufactures focus their research on finding different ways of fortifying their products to increase the nutritional value. In general, products that have been fortified with lots of nutrients are more expensive. However, some may find that the health benefits outweigh the higher price tag. So when you shop for yogurt, try to take the time to read the ingredient list. After all, what you get out of the yogurt depends exactly on what is put in.
The primary words to look for on a yogurt label are “live and active culture." There are at least 100 million probiotic bacteria per gram of product. Probiotic, simply translates into “for life,” and the probiotic cultures in yogurt are responsible for a number of health benefits, including:
- Relieving irritable bowel syndrome
- Improving immunity
- Reducing lactose intolerance
- Preventing constipation
- Protection against colon cancer
Some common types of probiotic bacteria used in yogurt production include:
- Bifidus regularis
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important to healthy vision, bones, skin and reproduction. It is also called retinol because of its direct influence on the wellness of your retina. This vitamin is mostly found in fish, meat and poultry, but it is also often added artificially into milk and yogurt. Yogurt with added vitamin A contains the compound vitamin A palmitate.
Calcium is not only important to your bone development, it is also indispensable to a number of other body functions, like nerve conduction, muscle contraction and cell metabolism. Calcium exists naturally in dairy, but most yogurts are fortified with an extra dose. On average, each 8-ounce serving holds 20% to 30% of your recommended daily intake (RDV) of calcium. One advantage to having yogurt is that your body can absorb calcium much better from yogurt than it does from milk. Yogurt is naturally more acidic, which makes it more conducive to calcium uptake.
Calcium absorption requires the presence of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause diseases like brittle bones and osteoporosis. You can self-produce some of this vitamin with enough sun exposure, but you do need extra dietary intake to meet your body’s demand. Vitamin D is also added to yogurt in quantities between 20% and 25% RDV.
Though it is not always apparent, yogurt does contain about 10% RDV of magnesium. This essential mineral works with calcium to help reduce your blood pressure and prevent heart diseases.
Some brands of yogurt infuse inulin into their products. This soluble fiber makes these brands even more diet friendly. Soluble fiber can help suppress your appetite and inhibit insulin release. Yogurts with added fiber are extremely beneficial to your digestive health and weight control.
If you're concerned about whether you're getting enough vitamins and minerals into your diet, consider keeping track of them by using the nutrition/diet tools on FitDay.com.