Yogurt is a popular dairy product around the globe. It is highly nutritious and gives various health benefits when consumed on a regular basis.
Yogurt is typically made when it goes through pasteurization followed by bacterial fermentation. The bacteria that promote the making of yogurt are known as yogurt cultures. These live bacteria cultures allow milk proteins to curdle, bringing out the luxurious taste and texture of yogurt that is loved by many people.
Moreover, yogurt provides an excellent source of nutrients, including calcium, proteins, vitamins such as B6 and B12, magnesium, and potassium, along with an impressive source of probiotics that aid in improving gut health. Probiotics are a combination of good/friendly bacteria that naturally resides in our digestive system. Although bacteria are viewed in a negative light, there are other good types that aid in boosting immunity, digestive health, and maintaining a healthier balance in the body.
Fermented foods like yogurt are the prime hosts of these friendly bacteria that effectively maintain the balance.
Consuming yogurt also offers a wide range of health benefits. A study revealed that frequent consumption of yogurt reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney diseases, improves immunity, and promotes healthy gut microbiota.1
Yogurt is one of the versatile foods enjoyed by many people. It also contains less lactose than milk because it undergoes a fermentation process when it is primarily used. This means individuals with lactose intolerance can enjoy eating yogurt too. The live, active bacteria found in yogurt can help digest lactose and offer a variety of benefits.
Benefits of yogurt in our body
The benefits of eating yogurt every day are diverse since it offers a wide variety of healthful nutrients. Here are some of the benefits that you can get from consuming this superfood:
Improves gut health: One of the major benefits of consuming yogurt is observing a boost in digestive health. The probiotic properties found in yogurt improve bowel movements and maintain a healthy gut by eliminating the harmful bacteria in it.2 Moreover, the active culture also aids in alleviating gastrointestinal conditions such as:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Colon cancer
- H.pylori infection
An immunity booster: Daily intake of yogurt enhances the immune response. In addition, it also effectively protects our body from several infections, including respiratory problems like the common cold and flu.
Regulates blood glucose levels: Regular consumption of unsweetened yogurt is known to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. It also helps in managing type 2 diabetes.
Promote bone health: Like other dairy products, yogurt is also a rich source of calcium. Calcium promotes bone development and conserves bone and tooth health. Furthermore, it is also involved in blood clotting, wound healing, and managing blood pressure. Regular consumption of yogurt may help lower the risk of fracture and osteoporosis.3
Another study indicated that yogurt could potentially enhance the muscular and bone health of elderly individuals.4
Aids in weight management: Yogurt is generally low in calories which could aid in managing body weight. Consuming yogurt with high protein content can keep you fuller for a longer period of time while preventing you from overeating.
Improves heart health: The relationship between yogurt and improved heart health is still debatable. Although the fat content present in yogurt is likely to have positive effects by increasing good cholesterol levels in the body. This in turn may reduce blood pressure, which is a prominent risk factor for heart disease.
Minimizes Inflammation: Frequent intake of yogurt may help reduce inflammation in the body. The active bacterial cultures also discourage the development of common infections and allergies. Moreover, the rich nutrients in yogurt may even prevent certain types of cancer.
Easily digestible: Among many benefits, the bonus point is that yogurt is easily digestible, even for those who are sensitive to lactose. This is because yogurt contains slight amounts of lactose, and the probiotics help break down the lactose sugar, making it easier for lactose-intolerant people to digest. Although it is advised to first try smaller portions of yogurt to observe how their body reacts to it.
Enhance Mood: The essential nutrients found in yogurt are potentially associated with encouraging hormones, which can enhance your mood. A few reviews also indicated that probiotics in yogurt help relieve emotional stress and anxiety.5
Types of yogurt
There are several different types of yogurts, each with a unique taste.
Yogurt can be made from all varieties of milk, including low-fat milk (skim milk), whole milk, and others. Though all types of yogurt are typically made with similar ingredients, their flavor and nutritional value differ because of how they are processed. Here are some of the common types consumed around the world.
Low-fat yogurt - also called reduced-fat yogurt, is processed by fermenting low-fat or skimmed milk. Because of its low-calorie content, low-fat yogurt is considered an ideal option for those who are trying to manage their weight.
Kefir is a type of drinkable yogurt that can be easily made at home by adding kefir grains to your choice of milk and leaving it to ferment for 12–24 hours. Kefir is packed with probiotic properties that assist in improving your digestion and immune health.
Greek yogurt - The thick and creamy texture of this yogurt is famously known for its high protein and low sugar content. Greek yogurt also referred to as "strained yogurt" is made by eliminating whey and other liquid parts from regular plain yogurt. The straining process used to make Greek yogurt results in its thicker consistency and higher protein content than other types of yogurt.
Though the extra straining leads to a lower calcium content. Packed with probiotics and high protein
substances helps in improving digestion and keeps you fuller for a longer time.
Skyr, pronounced "skeer," is somewhat similar to Greek yogurt. Skeer is a smooth, creamy, and thick-textured yogurt that comes from Icelandic cuisine. Additionally, skyr is super high in protein, low sugar, and fat than most yogurt types. It is also loaded with essential nutrients that could promote overall health.
Some other yogurt types include
- Non-dairy alternatives such as coconut milk yogurt and soy yogurt.
- Frozen yogurt is considered a healthy alternative to desserts and ice cream.
Overall, yogurt is a rich and nutritious food option for a healthy life. However, there are certain products (artificial sweeteners, flavors, and unhealthy ingredients) that are added during the processing of yogurt that may interfere with its nutritional value. That said, it is important to choose the right type of yogurt to maintain a healthy diet. Many experts recommend choosing unsweetened yogurt and combining it with fruits and vegetables. A study showed that the combined intake of yogurt and fruits exerts synergistic effects on the body. The combined nutritional sources potentially aid in reducing weight gain and cardiovascular diseases and also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.6
How does it feel after eating yogurt
Along with its innumerable health benefits, consuming yogurt is considered a perfect comfort food for many. Eating yogurt provides a feeling of satiety, which also prevents you from overeating. Moreover, this superfood sends good signals to your brain, which in turn enhances your overall mood, and reduces anxiety and emotional stress.1
When is the best time to eat yogurt
Because of its nutritional benefits, yogurt can be consumed during breakfast, for evening snacks, or even as a healthy dessert option after a meal. Though many nutrition experts recommend that the best time to consume yogurt is in the morning or on an empty stomach, This is because the probiotics, or good bacteria, in the yogurt, can enter your large intestines alive to maintain healthy and effective digestion.
How long does it take to digest yogurt
On average, yogurt takes around 1–2 hours to digest completely. However, the digestion time of yogurt may vary depending on several factors. This includes:
- The lactose amount present in the yogurt. In lactose-intolerant individuals, yogurt may take longer to digest than others
- The types of food and beverages are taken during the day
- How quickly your body digests yogurt. The rate of digestion is unique to each individual. Some people might have a faster digestive process in comparison to others. Moreover, factors like age, health-associated conditions, body mass index (BMI), genetics, and medication use can also affect the digestion rate in general
Which type of yogurt digests the fastest?
In general, our body absorbs all the nutrients from the yogurt and completely digests it within 1-2 hours. Although Greek yogurt is considered easily digestible for most people since it contains less lactose than a standard glass of cow's milk. However, in comparison to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt may digest a while later because of the double protein content present in it.
Yogurt is one of the versatile superfoods which benefits our health in innumerable ways. It is typically made by fermenting milk with various bacterial cultures. Yogurt contains all essential nutrients including vitamins and minerals along with its probiotic properties aids in maintaining weight and reduces the risk of developing heart, digestive, and kidney diseases, osteoporosis, and even certain types of cancers.
Due to yogurt's diverse benefits, it is recommended to consume it on a daily basis. However, it is also advised to maintain a balanced dietary intake.
Yogurt is an easily digestible food and can be tolerated by people who are sensitive to lactose content. For a safer option, individuals with lactose intolerance can try small amounts of yogurt first to check how their body responds. In general, yogurt is an ideal nutritional source that can be incorporated into a healthy diet.
- Lisko D, Johnston G, Johnston C. Effects of Dietary Yogurt on the Healthy Human Gastrointestinal (GI) Microbiome. Microorganisms. 2017 Feb 15;5(1):6.
- (PDF) Yogurt and gut function [Internet]. ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8432924_Yogurt_and_gut_function
- Rozenberg S, Body J-J, Bruyère O, Bergmann P, Brandi ML, Cooper C, et al. Effects of Dairy Products Consumption on Health: Benefits and Beliefs—A Commentary from the Belgian Bone Club and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases. Calcified Tissue International [Internet]. 2015 Oct 7;98(1):1–17.
- El-Abbadi NH, Dao MC, Meydani SN. Yogurt: role in healthy and active aging. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Internet]. 2014 May 1;99(5):1263S1270S. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/5/1263S/4577511
- Wallace CJK, Milev R. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Annals of General Psychiatry. 2017 Feb 20;16(1).
- Fernandez MA, Marette A. Potential Health Benefits of Combining Yogurt and Fruits Based on Their Probiotic and Prebiotic Properties. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 2017 Jan;8(1):155S164S.