What is Yogurt?
Yoghurt or yogurt is a dairy product that is made from fermented milk. Fermentation of lactose produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yoghurt its texture and its characteristic tang. Soy yoghurt, a non-dairy yoghurt alternative, is made from soy milk.
People have been making—and eating—yogurt for at least 4,500 years. Today it is a common food item throughout the world. A nutritious food with unique health benefits, it is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
Nutritional value and health benefits
Yoghurt is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It has nutritional benefits beyond those of milk. People who are moderately lactose-intolerant can enjoy yoghurt without ill effects, because the lactose in the milk precursor is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial culture. The reduction of lactose bypasses the affected individuals' need to process the milk sugar themselves.
Yoghurt also has medical uses, in particular for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, and in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. One study suggests that eating yoghurt containing L. acidophilus helps prevent vulvovaginal candidiasis, though the evidence is not conclusive.
Yoghurt is believed to promote good gum health, possibly because of the probiotic effect of lactic acids present in yoghurt.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity (11 January 2005) also found that the consumption of low fat yoghurt can promote weight loss. In the trial, obese individuals who ate 3 servings of low fat yoghurt a day as part of a low calorie diet lost 22% more weight than the control group who only cut back on calories and did not have extra calcium. They also lost 81% more abdominal fat.