Thursday, April 7, 2011

FUEL Better: Yogurt

Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt

Yogurt is a wonderful quick, easy and nutritious snack that is available year-round. Researchers are finding evidence that milk and yogurt may actually add years to your life as is found in some countries where yogurt and other fermented dairy products (like kefir) are a dietary staple.

Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk, which causes the transformation of the milk's sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yogurt its refreshingly tart flavor and unique pudding-like texture, a quality that is reflected in its original Turkish name, Yoghurmak, which means "to thicken."

Both have health benefits

Yogurt is a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2 and iodine. Yogurt also is a good source of vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum. These 10 nutrients alone would make yogurt a health-supportive food. But some of the most health benefits come from its potential inclusion of live bacteria.

One of the latest diet buzz words has been “probiotics,” specifically those that exist in yogurt. This type of “good bacteria” has been shown to boost immunity and help maintain healthy digestion, and one of the prime sources of probiotics is yogurt. Dannon’s Activia yogurt has built its entire marketing campaign around the bacteria, but the company has recently been slapped with a $35-million false advertising lawsuit saying Dannon made false claims about the medical benefits of eating the product.

While the amount in Dannon’s Activia may not be as much as claimed, probiotics are still an important part of a healthy diet.  Find the highest concentration of yogurt probiotics in Greek Yogurts.

Greek yogurt vs. Regular yogurt

Greek yogurt is strained of extra liquid which makes it thicker and richer than regular yogurt, and typically contains lower sugar, higher protein and higher amounts of probiotics.

Greek yogurt can contain up to six strains of probiotics, while regular yogurt usually contains just two. These high levels aid in converting milk lactose into lactic acid, making it easier to digest, especially for those who are lactose intolerant.

My favorite brands: Fage, Chobani and Oikos. Found in any major grocery store and specialty groceries.
If you’re new to the Greek yogurt bandwagon, Chobani is the best Greek yogurt: creamy, mild and available in many different flavors. If you have a more advanced palette, Fage is slightly tangier and a bit sour (i.e., more authentic). Either way, Greek yogurt reigns supreme over regular yogurt when it comes to taste, nutrition and probiotics.

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