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What are probiotics in yogurt: Your complete guide to choosing a yogurt to meet your needs

Your complete guide to choosing a yogurt to meet your needs

Feeling dazed and confused in the yogurt aisle? Here’s some information to help you make good choices.

Yogurt used to be pretty straightforward. It came in small, simple containers, with a swirl of fruit on the bottom if you were lucky. Not anymore. Today there’s Greek yogurt, shakes, and tasty-looking cups with sprinkles and crushed cookies. Yogurt is blended into smoothies and squirted into portable tubes and pouches. Over in the ice cream aisle, there are even more options, with a variety of frozen yogurt products in tubs and handheld popsicles.

This gives you lots of choices but might also leave you wondering which one to pick. At the root of the dilemma is this question: is yogurt a health food or a dessert? The truth is, today’s yogurt can be either, depending on the type you choose. This means you’ve got to do a little detective work to figure it out.

Before we get into details about how to sort the good yogurt from the bad, let’s talk a little bit about why you want to eat yogurt in the first place.

Yogurt and your health

Yogurt is a nutrient-rich food that fuels your body with protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, and some key fatty acids that your body needs to stay healthy.

Studies have also shown numerous health benefits for regular yogurt eaters. For starters, they are thinner than people who don’t eat yogurt.

But truthfully, it’s still not totally clear whether eating yogurt will slim your waistline. It’s possible that people who eat yogurt are thinner because they have better eating habits overall. But what yogurt can do — particularly yogurt with a high amount of protein — is keep you feeling full, which might help you eat less and lose weight.

Yogurt isn’t officially yogurt according to FDA standards without S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus.  Some brands of yogurt will feature a “Live & Active Cultures (LAC)” seal from the National Yogurt Association (NYA). The NYA provides voluntary certification to companies that make yogurt, and the seal tells you that the brand has at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time it’s manufactured. Multiple brands of yogurt may contain live and active cultures even though the label may not explicitly list the bacteria or say “live and active cultures.” 

Some yogurts have been heat-treated, a process that kills the cultures. Or the yogurt maker may just stir live, active cultures into the recipe and skip the fermenting process used to make yogurt. Yogurt must be fermented to get the NYA seal.

The pros of probiotics

Yogurt may contain probiotics, which are live microorganisms similar to those in your gut. Yogurt is made from milk, with a dash of bacteria to kick off the fermenting process.

Research today is making some important connections between the types of bacteria that live in your body and your overall health. Studies have linked these bacteria to a wide variety of conditions ranging from mood disorders to infections. Some studies suggest that having certain types of good bacteria may help insulate people from certain health woes. There is some evidence that probiotics, like those found in yogurt, can help improve symptoms of some digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and certain types of diarrhea.

Another promising area of research is the role of gut microbes in obesity. Researchers have found that people who are lean and people who weigh too much typically have different types of gut bacteria. This raises the question: can people lose weight if you change the type of bacteria in their bodies? Researchers are searching for this answer right now.

So far, the FDA hasn’t approved any probiotics to treat specific health conditions, but that hasn’t stopped some yogurt companies from promoting the health benefits available from their brand’s unique probiotics. Until we have clinical studies that offer the evidence we need, be skeptical of specific health claims made about various products.

Your yogurt checklist

Now that we’ve discussed the potential benefits of yogurt, let’s talk about how to actually pick a good one from the dairy case. You can help simplify the process in a sea of choices by focusing on these ingredients.

Sugar. Ideally choose plain yogurt, which has zero added sugar. Yes, the yogurts with crushed cookies and peanut butter chips are tasty. But they’re a treat, not a health food. Eat them in moderation.

Protein. Yogurts high in protein can promote satiety (the feeling of being full), which could help you combat that weight gain that happens to many women after they go through menopause. Look for yogurt that has 5 grams or more of protein per serving. Greek-style yogurt generally has more protein than other types of yogurt, sometimes as much as 16 grams.

Taste. If you don’t like it, you won’t eat it, so find a brand that is not only good for you, but also one you look forward to eating.

Simple ingredients. Try to pick yogurts with the least amount of extra ingredients. Don’t count bacterial cultures — the label may list all, some or none of the bacteria in the product. That does not mean one yogurt is less healthy than another.

Frozen yogurt: Dessert or health food?

Frozen yogurt is not the same as traditional yogurt. Unlike traditional yogurt, it doesn’t need to meet any specific government standards to call itself yogurt, and sometimes it’s not actually yogurt at all.

Some brands of frozen yogurt do contain live and active cultures. Surprisingly, freezing doesn’t kill the live microbes, but it may essentially put them to sleep. They wake up from their dormant state only after they thaw inside your body, according to the Natural Yogurt Association (NYA). However, if a frozen yogurt does have live and active cultures, it will often have fewer of them than its refrigerated counterparts do. The NYA requires refrigerated yogurts to have 100 million cultures per gram in order to bear its “Live & Active Cultures” seal, but a frozen yogurt product needs to have only 10 million cultures per gram. (As with traditional yogurt, some brands of frozen yogurt may meet this standard but opt not to go through the voluntary process to get the seal. )

In other instances, frozen yogurt may have no live, active cultures at all. Just like with regular yogurt, heat-treated yogurt kills the cultures. Or the maker may just stir live, active cultures into the recipe and skip the fermenting process used to make yogurt. Yogurt must be fermented to get the NYA seal.

The bottom line: When it comes to frozen yogurt, check the label carefully. There may be some healthy ones out there, but in many cases that tasty tub of frozen yogurt is just another dessert.

 Image: © jenifoto/Getty Images

Want probiotics but dislike yogurt? Try these foods

The top item on my grocery list is always yogurt: unsweetened, organic, made with almond milk. I’m always afraid I’ll run out since I use it all the time. I put two tablespoons in every smoothie, switch it out for mayo, and nothing beats a cool cup on a hot day as an afternoon snack.

Besides healthy doses of calcium and protein, yogurt is a prime source for probiotics, the “good” live bacteria and yeasts. Why are these helpful? Having a proper balance of bacteria in your gut improves digestion, blocks dangerous organisms that can cause infections, and boosts your immune system. It also helps your body absorb vital nutrients from food.

What to know about probiotics

Unlike vitamins, there is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so there is no way to know which type of bacteria or quantities are best. The general guideline is to add some foods with probiotics to your daily diet.

Hundreds of ingestible bacteria are classified as probiotics. The two found in most probiotic foods are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, each of which contains various strains. On food labels, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are often abbreviated as L. or B. and then combined with name of a specific strain. So, the strain acidophilus within the Lactobacillus bacteria is written as L. acidophilus.

Probiotics in yogurt

This brings us back to yogurt, which often contains L. acidophilus.

Yogurt is a popular probiotic food because it’s widely available, and there are different ways to consume it. Some brands include a Live & Active Cultures (LAC) seal from the International Dairy Foods Association to verify probiotic content. Otherwise, look for the words “live and active cultures” on the label. (Also, many fruit or sweetened varieties have too much sugar, so check labels for that, too.)

Looking beyond yogurt for probiotics

What if you are not a yogurt enthusiast, or simply want more options? Luckily, many other foods also serve up a good dose of good bacteria. They come in various flavors and textures, so odds are you will find a few to your liking.

Kefir. This yogurtlike drink has a tart flavor, with a thinner consistency than yogurt. The beverage is usually made with dairy milk, but also comes in non-dairy alternatives, like coconut water, coconut milk, and rice milk. Kefir also comes in fruit and vegetable flavors, or you can add flavors yourself like cinnamon, vanilla, and pumpkin spice. It is also an excellent base for smoothies.

Kimchi. Kimchi is a spicy, reddish fermented cabbage dish made with a mix of garlic, salt, vinegar, and chili peppers. It’s often served alone or mixed with rice or noodles. You can also add it to scrambled eggs or on top of potatoes. You can find it at most grocery stores or Asian markets.

Kombucha. This fermented tea drink has a tangy-tart flavor. Kombucha contains caffeine comparable to some other tea drinks. Some brands have added sugar, so check the label and avoid anything with more than 5 grams of sugar per serving.

Miso. A popular paste in Japanese cuisine, miso is made from soybeans fermented with brown rice. It has a strong, salty flavor, and a little goes a long way. Use it as a dipping sauce, spread over your toast, or add it to marinades for fish, meats, and vegetables.

Pickles. Not every type of pickle will do. Look for brands brined in water and sea salt instead of vinegar.

Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is pickled cabbage and may be an acquired taste. (I am a fan thanks to my German-born grandmother, who made me Reuben sandwiches as a kid.) Use it as a hot dog topper, mix it into salads, or combine it with your regular side vegetables. Always choose raw or non-pasteurized sauerkraut. It contains more probiotics than commercial sauerkraut, which loses much of its bacteria from pasteurization.

Tempeh. Tempeh is a cake made from fermented soybeans, with a firmer texture than tofu. It is a popular meat substitute — try it as a veggie burger patty, or add to pasta sauce. Tempeh often comes precooked and ready to eat, but some brands may need cooking.

Probiotic Yoghurt | 5 Reasons to Add It to Your Diet

Probiotic Yogurt | 5 reasons to add it to your diet | good food

Probiotic yogurt is a fermented milk product that contains beneficial bacteria. Without them, you often get sick because there are not enough microprotectors in the microflora that help your body resist infections and viruses.

There are various rumors about yoghurts: from the complete uselessness of this product to the appropriation of some fabulous results. Therefore, we have prepared this article: we will talk about the real benefits of yogurt, who should eat it and how to choose it.

5 Reasons to Add Probiotics to Your Diet

The story goes that in the 12th century AD, Genghis Khan’s army often ate a dairy product that we today call yogurt. Warriors knew: it helps to become stronger, stronger, more enduring in order to overcome any distance and adequately fight with rivals.

Scientists and therapists today confirmed the benefits of probiotic yogurt:

  • A team of scientists at the University of Vienna conducted an experiment that showed that women who consumed at least 110 grams of yogurt daily were better able to resist colds and infections. It turned out that in their blood during the experiment, the number of T-cells, which are responsible for the protective functions of the body, increased;
  • study from the Journal of Nutrition team showed that allergy sufferers who regularly eat natural yogurt are less likely to suffer from manifestations of the disease than their “colleagues” who did not include this product in their diet;
  • University of Tennessee researchers also conducted their study and found that those who ate about 500 grams of yogurt a day and followed a diet and healthy eating habits lost 22% more excess weight than respondents who did not. Scientists explained this this way: when you eat yogurt, calcium enters the body, which reduces the level of cortisol production. It is this hormone that affects the rate of accumulation of body fat;
  • in Spain, a group of scientists conducted a study for 2 years, in which about 5,000 people took part. They found an interesting relationship: Participants who ate natural yogurt with up to 5% fat had 50% less hypertension.

We have also conducted studies in adults and children to find out how useful and effective GoodFood starter cultures are. The doctors who helped us noted that the health of the participants improved significantly. Read the research report here.

5 reasons why you should include probiotic yogurt in your diet:

  1. Strengthens the immune system – beneficial bacteria in the microflora guard your health 24/7. They protect against the attack of harmful viruses and infections.
  2. Activates the internal source of energy – helps the body to produce vitamin B12 on its own
  3. Helps improve skin condition — due to the normalization of the intestines, there are no toxins in the body that spoil the complexion and provoke inflammation
  4. Makes you more active and stress-resistant – Yogurt contains potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, iodine, zinc and vitamin B5. All these elements have a positive effect on the nervous and cardiac systems of the body
  5. Says no to ulcers – Good bacteria from yogurt fights back Helicobacter pylori infection. It provokes the appearance of many diseases of the stomach, including an ulcer.

When do you need probiotic yoghurts?

  • Completed a course of antibiotics — these drugs kill both “strangers” and “friends”. In addition to harmful viruses, beneficial bacteria, which are necessary for strong immunity and normal bowel function, die. Probiotic yogurt will help restore the balance in the microflora after taking antibiotics
  • Love to indulge in fast food – a lot of dough, spicy and sweet upset the balance in the microflora. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt help address a range of ailments such as lactose intolerance, chronic indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Actively go in for sports – probiotic yogurt contains vitamins and calcium, which is necessary for strengthening bones. The protein from yogurt is easily digestible and quickly supplies the muscles with amino acids and energizes.
  • Periodically feel pain in the joints – it is yogurt that is the perfect combination of calcium and vitamin D3. This mix is ​​well known as nature’s best way to fight osteoporosis and relieve inflammation in the joints
  • For everyone who strives for a balanced diet, the inclusion of yogurt in the diet will help provide the body with vitamins and minerals, replenish the ranks of beneficial bacteria in the microflora and feel great every day.
There are 3 sources of probiotics: which one to choose?
  1. Pharmacy probiotics in the form of capsules, tablets or powders — presented with different compositions from domestic and foreign manufacturers.
  2. Ready-made yoghurts – a large and wide range is available in supermarkets, but they may contain preservatives, sugar, dyes and other not very useful elements.
  3. Starter cultures for yoghurts – chosen by those who want to get a truly natural composition without overpayments.

Which source of probiotics should I choose? Let’s look at the facts

  • 1 average drugstore probiotic capsule contains as many good bacteria as 1 tablespoon of homemade yogurt. Only in a fermented milk product can you still add berries, nuts, honey and get a healthy dessert;
  • , in addition, there are “sleeping” bacteria in the capsule – they are specially placed in suspended animation so that they wait for a meeting with your body. Homemade and store-bought yogurts contain live active bacteria, which immediately settle in the microflora to activate the protective functions of the body;
  • store-bought yogurts have a nuance – carefully look at the composition. Some manufacturers use only a few types of beneficial bacteria, so your personal army of assistants and defenders may not be enough to withstand attacking viruses and bacteria;
  • look for yogurt without sugar and additives on the shelves – this way you will get a really healthy and natural product;
  • also consider the shelf life of store-bought yogurt – the longer the jar is in the store, the weaker the bacteria and you will get less benefit from the product;
  • sourdough yogurt is a 100% natural product that you have complete control over.
  • nice plus starter cultures – an attractive assortment for a varied diet. Today – homemade fermented baked milk with a delicate taste and aroma of baked milk, in a couple of days – narine, a well-known drink for centenarians, and next week – yogurt with vitamin D3. You yourself create a menu of delicious fermented milk products, which include a strong team of beneficial bacteria.

Finding starters for homemade yogurt is very easy – look at the map and choose the nearest pharmacy, store, supermarket or order online on the site.

GOOD FOOD – healthy eating starts here!

To the starter shop

Good Food 05/12/2020

See also

The more beneficial bacteria in a probiotic, the better

Probiotics and probiotic products are on the list of must-haves…

More than 1,000 different types of bacteria live in the human intestine


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Experts know which yogurts contain more probiotics and which ones contain more advertisements

A healthy lifestyle is now in vogue. Manufacturers, focusing on demand, have taken a course to expand the range of fermented milk products. Labels are full of: “live”, “no preservatives”, “natural” … How to choose a fermented milk product that will really benefit? What information to look for on the label? During the week, specialists of the Quality laboratory of the Center for Standardization and Metrology were looking for answers to these questions. During the organoleptic examination, they were joined by employees of three more expert institutions.

The rating is based on organoleptic evaluation and the results of microbiological and physico-chemical studies (the only way that can clarify whether yogurts are really healthy as advertised and manufacturers claim). While fermented milk samples go through a winding path of laboratory research, experts are tasting “rivals”.

– Delicate, the taste of sourdough is a good sign, – Olga Tolkacheva, an expert on dairy products of the regional veterinary laboratory, comments.

– Viscous – here are both stabilizers and thickeners, – expert Lilia Serebrennikova tries and immediately concludes: – More dyes and flavors, a full bouquet.

– What is pleasing to the eye is not always pleasing to the stomach: the taste is clogged with chemistry, – Lyudmila Saratova, a representative of Expert Service, criticized one of the samples.

Tasters repeatedly returned to samples that caused controversy. An end to the “i” was put by Lyudmila Bezkrovnaya, who published the results of the research. Her colleagues did not hide the fact that they were unpleasantly surprised by the results: out of nine samples, only four contained useful probiotics, the presence of which was indicated by the labeling of all samples.

Examination participants:

Agusha, Omsk

Aktimel, Moscow region

Imunele, Omsk

Biobalance, Kemerovo

Fruit Bioyogurt, Seversk

Biel , Seversk

Activia, Moscow Region

Rastishka, Moscow Region

Tyoma, Kemerovo

Lyudmila Bezkrovnaya, Chief Specialist of the Quality Laboratory comments:

1st place – Biobalance ”: physical and chemical studies have shown that the declared bacteria are presented in full.

2nd place – Activia: as many lacto- and bifidobacteria as indicated on the label, the acidity of the product is within the normal range, but slightly higher than that of the winner.

3rd place – “Biel”: slightly less bifidobacteria were found than promised by the manufacturer.

4th place – “Imunele” and “Fruit Bioyogurt”. In the first, there were both bifidus and lactobacilli, but the experts were confused by the taste of the product. The second corresponded to the content of lactobacilli, but the bifidus pumped up – less than promised.

5th place – Aktimel. The content of declared lactobacilli is significantly reduced. It is rather kefir than yogurt, it cannot bring any special benefit (prophylactic and health-improving).

Drinking yoghurts for children:

1st place – “Rastishka” – everything that is stated on the label is presented in the product in full.

2nd place was shared by Tyoma and Agusha. In “Tyoma” there are only lactobacilli, but it was them that the manufacturer declared. “Agusha”, according to the collegial assessment of the tasters, lost only organoleptically.

Yoghurt is a fermented milk product with a high content of skimmed milk solids. Lactobacilli help the digestive system. Bifidobacteria are responsible for the prevention and healing of the body

Lyudmila Bezkrovnaya: “You see, in the sample, colonies of various shapes and types are visible – these are probiotics that are beneficial to our health. Especially such yoghurts should be consumed when a person is taking antibiotics: they kill the microflora of the body, and pro-

biotics prevent this and restore it»


Obvious advantages of yogurt

1. Yogurt is digested better than milk.

2. Yoghurt contains lactobacilli – they have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the intestines.

3. Beneficial bacteria contained in yogurt help more efficient absorption of calcium and B vitamins. The product is rich in vitamins A, D, and phosphorus.

4. If a person eats two cups of yogurt daily, his body intensively produces immune-boosting interferon.

5. Yogurt is a valuable source of calcium (in a couple of cups up to 450 mg – half the recommended daily allowance for a child and 30-40% of the norm for an adult).

6. Yogurt is a source of proteins. Two cups of natural yogurt contains 10-14 grams of protein, which is 20% of the recommended daily allowance for humans.


Choose yogurt with a magnifying glass

Elena Abramenko, Expertservice specialist:

  • Read the composition – you will make many discoveries, but you cannot study the markings without a magnifying glass.
  • The shorter the ingredient list and expiration date, the better.
  • I advise you to opt for plain yogurt, without additives. Such yogurt usually has only two ingredients: milk (whole, fat-free or low-fat) and live bacterial cultures.