Nutritional and health benefits of yoghurt
An excellent nutritional value
Yoghurt is a nutritionally dense food, providing many essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, necessary for the growth, development and protection of the human body. Yoghurt is a an important source of protein and calcium and is relatively low in fat. Set, stirred or as a beverage, yoghurt is a convenient and wholesome food that can be eaten anywhere, anytime and at any age.
Fat free or low fat yoghurt contains the same nutrients found in skimmed milk.
A source of energy
Yoghurt is an excellent source of protein, the building block of life and dietary energy essential to the growth and repair of the human body. Proteins contribute to forming and maintaining body tissue, muscles and bones.
The main carbohydrate found in yoghurt and dairy products is the milk sugar lactose which is converted into glucose and galactose to be used as energy in the body. Fermentation by the lactic acid bacteria lowers the amount of lactase in yoghurt, making it more digestible for those suffering from lactose intolerance.
The fat content in yoghurt differs from one variety of yoghurt and fermented milk to the next, depending on the type of milk used (whole, partly skimmed, skimmed).
A source of essential vitamins
Yoghurt is an important source of complex B vitamins (particularly B1 and B2), as well as vitamin D.
B2 (Riboflavin) - essential for releasing energy from nutrients, forms red blood cells, needed for tissue formation and required for maintaining healthy eyes and skin
B12 - helps to form red blood cells, needed for the nervous system and for the formation of DNA
B6 - required for protein and red cell metabolism, helps the immune and nervous systems to function
A source of essential minerals
Calcium is essential for strengthening bones and teeth. High quantities of calcium are found in dairy products and yoghurt in particular is an important source of calcium because it is bio-available (better and more easily absorbed by the body than calcium in other forms). Calcium is indispensable for preserving bone mass, particularly in ageing women. Calcium is also important for muscle movements and a healthy heart rhythm.
Phosphorous is an essential vitamin needed for healthy bones, teeth, tissue growth Needed by enzymes and is a building block for nuclear acids. Yoghurt provides a very good contribution towards an adult’s recommended daily requirement.
Magnesium is very important in the activation of the body’s enzymes. This mineral is also essential for metabolic processes, muscle contractions and good functioning of the nervous system.
Potassium is needed for the body’s growth and maintenance, regulates acid/base reactions, muscle and nerve functions.
Trace quantities of other minerals such as selenium are also found in yoghurt.
Some other health advantages
Low in fat, high in protein
Yoghurt is a wholesome food with the advantage of having low fat content, few calories and a high protein content.
Promotes strong teeth and bones
Yoghurt and fermented milks, like many dairy products, are a very valuable source of calcium, an essential mineral that plays an indispensable role in developing and maintaining strong, healthy teeth and bones. Growing children and adolescents need calcium to assure healthy bone development, as do people later in life, to maintain bone deposits.
Osteoporosis is a serious bone disease, resulting from a loss of bone mass, leading to porous, brittle bones and resulting in an increased risk of fracture. As we age, there is a natural loss of bone density and women (one out of two) are more prone to this problem than men. Rich in calcium and often enriched with vitamin D, yoghurt and fermented milks are a good choice to prevent bone loss.
Helps to reduce high blood pressure
Yoghurt is a very good source of readily absorbable calcium, magnesium and potassium - three nutrients that are effective in helping to reduce high blood pressure, strokes and cardiovascular disease. Low or non fat yoghurt is the best option for sufferers of hypertension.
Aides in digestive problems
Yoghurt is a natural remedy to ease digestive disorders such as diarrhea, constipation and lactose intolerance (see probiotics section).
Protects gastrointestinal tract
The beneficial bacteria in yoghurt are important factors in maintaining the balance of microflora in the gut, preventing pathogenic bacteria from taking hold and other disease causing toxins.