Yogurt was a long-established staple in Eastern Europe and the Middle East before it reached our shores. And there was a time when yogurt eaters in this country were considered "health nuts." Our attitudes have changed considerably. Today, yogurt is commonly consumed by men, women, and children of all ages. Walk into any supermarket today, and you'll see the varieties and flavors of this nutritious food take up considerable space in the dairy section. In this article, we will review how including yogurt in your daily diet can make your body stronger.

Friendly Bacteria

Yogurt may not be the miracle food some have claimed, but it certainly has a lot to offer in the health department. Besides being an excellent source of bone-building calcium, it is believed that the bacterial cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus) and Streptococcus thermophilus (S. thermophilus), that are used to make yogurt, carry their own health benefits.

For example, research has suggested that eating yogurt regularly helps boost the body's immune-system function, warding off colds and possibly even helping to fend off cancer. It is also thought the friendly bacteria found in many types of yogurt can help prevent and even remedy diarrhea.

For people who suffer from lactose intolerance, yogurt is often well tolerated because live yogurt cultures produce lactase, making the lactose sugar in the yogurt easier to digest (see Lactose Intolerance for advice on coping with this condition). Be sure to check the label on the yogurt carton for the National Yogurt Association's Live and Active Cultures (LAC) seal. This seal identifies products that contain a significant amount of live and active cultures. But don't look to frozen yogurt as an option; most frozen yogurt contains little of the healthful bacteria.Preparation and Serving TipsYogurt can be enjoyed as a low-fat dessert, snack, or meal accompaniment; just add sliced berries, nuts, wheat germ, bananas, peaches, fruit cocktail, mandarin-orange slices, pineapple chunks, low-fat granola, or bran cereal. Yogurt also works well as a low-fat substitute in a lot of recipes that call for high-fat ingredients such as sour cream or cream. Yogurt is especially well-suited as a base for vegetable and/or chip dips and salad dressings. 

©Publications International, Ltd.