Yoghurts: A nutrient dense Snack

Yoghurt is a cultured milk product that is soured and thickened by the action of specific lactic acid-producing cultures added to milk. The lactic acid produced by the culture coagulates the milk protein, thickening the milk and adding the characteristic sour flavor. The starter cultures—or probiotics—used to make Yoghurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Yoghurt Consumption
India is the no.1 milk producing country in the world, but has much lower per capita consumption of dairy. With regards to Yoghurts, the per capita consumption per year is only 1kg as compared to 25-45 kg per year in European countries. Yoghurt has a potential to occupy healthy snack and dessert space in the changing Indian diets.

Nutritional Contribution of Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a naturally nutritious food that is good for people of all ages. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium and potassium. A single serving of Yoghurt will give you a significant boost of Phosphorous, Potassium, B12, Riboflavin, Zinc, Iodine, and Vitamin B5.

Vitamins and minerals naturally found in milk are better assimilated by the human body when in the form of Yoghurt. This is due to the fermentation process involving Lactobacillus bulgaricus, L. acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus, among other types of probiotic bacteria. These microorganisms not only assist in the production of vitamin K and vitamin B12, but they also make sure calcium is efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream so it can be carried into the bones.

“Nutrilicious” Snack Option
Yoghurt’s nutritional density is better than other snacks, and hence it is a healthier snacking option. Replacing Yoghurt with other foods in same amount can confer more nutritional benefits.

Contribution of Yoghurt to Good Health

Besides providing good nutrition, Yoghurt contains live and active cultures – living beneficial bacteria which supports digestion and improves gut health. There is substantial evidence on health benefits of Yoghurt viz. weight management, cardiovascular and GI health and cancer. Recent meta-analyses have shown that dairy consumption is neutral or beneficial for weight control, coronary disease, diabetes, hypertension, and most cancers. Currently, extensive research has been conducted to investigate the mechanisms through which Yoghurt generates beneficial effects. Gut microbiota appear to be an important factor that can be modified by dietary prebiotics, as well as probiotics such as Yoghurt.

Yoghurt is that one by-product of milk that can be safely consumed by people with Lactose Intolerance.
Bacterial fermentation of Yoghurt results in changing lactose (the sugar in milk) to lactic acid, and hence lower intake of lactose. The good bacteria present in Yoghurt secrete an enzyme called Galactosidase that allows them to pre-digest part of the lactose. Therefore, lactose intolerant individuals can easily digest Yoghurt and show better tolerance to Yoghurt as compared to milk.

Greek Yoghurt
Greek Yoghurt is creamier and has higher protein content. It has about twice the protein, half the sodium and half the carbohydrates than regular Yoghurt. Majority of Indians consume Carbohydrate rich diet, incorporating Greek Yoghurt could contribute to good amount of proteins and B12, especially for vegetarians. The proteins present in Yoghurt are of good quality which provide essential amino acids in the diet.

Both Greek Yoghurt and regular Yoghurt contribute to a healthy diet