Yogurt is one of the most nutritious foods you can find right now and easily include in your daily diet. Packed with healthy animal protein, bone building calcium and offering multiple benefits, without loading your system with calories, yogurt is highly recommended for everyone, from those who want to lose weight to seniors and kids that need good nutrition every day in order to stay healthy and boost their immune system.
Important health benefits of yogurt
As already mentioned, yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium, but there are other vitamins and minerals found in the tasty treat. Vitamin B6 and B12, as well as potassium and magnesium are present in significant amounts in yogurt. Plus, yogurt is rich in probiotics, which are good living bacteria whose main role is to maintain a healthy flora in your digestive tract, stimulating your immune system at the same time.
Here is a countdown of the best benefits of yogurt for health:
- Yogurt is one of your best allies against osteoporosis, as it helps build bone mass, regardless of age.
- Yogurt helps reducing blood pressure, if 2-3 servings of low fat varieties are consumed daily.
- Yogurt can help with your lactose intolerance. Yes, that’s right; yogurt, in small amounts, will help your digestive system regulate its microflora so that it does not cause the nasty effects of lactose intolerance.
- Yogurt staves off hunger. One of the reasons why yogurt is recommended for weight loss diets is its ability to make you feel full faster. Since yogurt is low in calories compared to many other foods, consuming yogurt every day will help you greatly reduce the amount of calories, without making you feel hungry all the time.
- Yogurt helps your muscle repair faster after a workout. Your muscles suffer micro damage at tissue level when you are working out and this is how they grow. However, muscular pains are no fun, and while muscles are repairing themselves, you will not feel so fine and dandy. Yogurt gives you a good intake of protein needed for this repair process to happen faster, plus, it helps you keep well hydrated.
- Yogurt helps keeping cold away. Rich in T cells, efficient in preventing infections in the body, this tasty treat will help you through the winter season with fewer cold episodes.
- Yogurt is good for your teeth. Studies show that daily intake of yogurt helps protect your gums and it is a good ally in preventing periodontal disease.
Making your own yogurt
There are plenty of yogurt varieties on the market, but the best way to control the ingredients and to avoid any artificial sweeteners and other add-ons you do not need is to make your own yogurt at home. The process is not very difficult and you can do it using only milk and a bit of starter.
You can use any kind of milk, except for ultra-high pasteurized milk, which seems to be more difficult to turn into yogurt, since it no longer contains any kind of good bacteria, needed for the process. What you have to do is to heat the milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, then cool it down to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, after which you should add the starter that will stimulate the production of probiotics.
Bacterial growth must be sustained by maintaining the milk at a warm temperature, of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There are many different ways to do that, from letting the milk sit in containers placed with a place with constant elevated temperature, or by using some kind of device, from crock pots to rice makers.
However, the most convenient method is, by far, the use of a yogurt maker. These kitchen appliances are very easy to use and pretty straightforward. More elaborated models come with temperature control settings that allow you to pick different yogurt recipes and get the best result each and every time. A great thing about these models is that they can maintain the right temperature, regardless of the temperature of the environment, so you do not have to worry that your yogurt will not be ready.
Make the best out of your yogurt with delicious recipes
Yogurt is a very versatile type of food, and it works great for a wide variety of dishes, from appetizers to main courses and desserts.
A chicken salad will become even more scrumptious by adding yogurt to the marinade, and, if you like spices, but without feeling like your tongue caught on fire, the yogurt will temper the hotness of spices.
Banana cakes are great for breakfast meals, and, if you add a dash of yogurt to the mix when you are preparing the cake, you will obtain a low fat tasty dish that will provide you with enough energy to take you through the morning.
Use yogurt as a dressing for potato salads and you will obtain a creamy effect that you will absolutely love. The best part is that you can use yogurt for any potato salad combination, regardless of whether you want it German style, or spiced with lemon herb.
In summer, combining yogurt with fruits is a great choice for energy filled days without loading on calories. If you do not want to pick fruit flavored yogurts from the dairy isle, you can make your own yogurt at home and try your hand at some tasty recipes, such as bourbon glazed peaches with yogurt. When glazed in bourbon, the sugar levels are adjusted to balance the natural tart acidity of peaches. In combination with yogurt, they simply taste heavenly.
Use your yogurt with your fast food, as well, if you want to lower your daily calorie intake. Instead of mayo and other greasy dressings, choose yogurt, and your sandwiches and hamburgers will be just as tasty, minus the fat and the large amount of calories that are usually added just because of the dressing.
Don’t forget that you can add yogurt to soups, as well. Creamy soups made of veggies, such as asparagus soup become richer in flavor and make for a healthy, tasty meal you can have at lunchtime.