I've been on a yogurt kick since...well, since as far as I can remember.
Honestly, my love for yogurt is deeper than the ocean and goes back to when I was a toddler (according to my mum at least).
I can say, without equivocation that yogurt is my favorite snack.
I realize I said the same about other stuff already and that you probably think I'm exaggerating a tad and being melodramatic and that I need to dial-it-down and stop saying "This is the best thing in the world, I could live on this!".
But yogurt? With yogurt I think you and I are in the same boat (in a good way though).
Because yogurt is delicious, filling, packed with health benefits and has very few calories.
It can be used in a number of different ways: Smoothies, cakes, marinades, sauces, and when you freeze it...do we even need to discuss about frozen yogurt????
Since we (yes, you and I) love it so much, I've done some research and discovered some pretty interesting facts about it.
Now I love it even more than before, and I'm totally expecting you to do the same. Deal?
Let’s start from the very beginning. Yogurt didn’t always existed. It was “only” 6,000 years ago in Turkey that yogurt was first - accidentally - discovered. The warm climate of this particular area of Southwest Asia and Middle East, paired with the abundance of milk (from cows, sheeps, and goats) provided the ideal scenario for such discovery to happen.
Historians believe that the herdsmen populating this region began at that time the practice of milking their animals, and stored the milk in the animal stomachs (which were used as primitive containers). The natural enzymes (i.e., rennin) present in the animals' digestive organ, curdled the milk, converting it into yogurt.
To the herdsmen's surprise, the curdled milk kept longer than regualt milk and - being of a thicker consistency - it was easier to carry around. A total advantage in their semi-nomadic life.
The name yogurt derives from the Turkish word “joggurt”. Which literally means milk that has been fermented into a tart, semisolid mass.
The “mystery” of this semi-solid mass was solved in the 20th century by Russian biologist Ilya Metchnikoff. In 1898, one of the researchers working in his team isolated - for the first time - one of the bacterium (Lactobacillus) responsible for milk’s curdling.
Metchnikoff - later awarded with a Nobel prize for his research - began studying this particular strain of lactic-acid producing bacterium, focusing on its possible therapeutic values. Persuaded of the efficacy of the bacterium, he made it available commercially.
Yogurt was brought to mainstream in the US at the “Battle creek sanitarium” (Michigan) - at turn of the 20th century - by John Harvey Kellogg , an ardent advocate of yogurt's health benefits.
How is yogurt produced?
When bacterial cultures are added to milk, lactose is converted into lactic acid. The conversion into lactic acid is what makes yogurt tart with a texture similar to pudding.
The tartness of the yogurt depends on the type of bacteria culture that has been used.
Why is yogurt healthy?
Rich in Calcium
Yogurt is high in calcium.
Calcium plays a major role in the health of bone mass. It is, in particular, crucial in the development and maintenance of healthy bones in synergy with vitamin D.
In this respect, a diet rich in calcium may help prevent osteoporosis.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that restore the balance of the gastrointestinal flora. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, probiotics aid inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, and diarrhea, promoting digestive health.
Can decrease the risk of high blood pressure
It has been reported that diets high in calcium decrease blood pressure. A study conducted at Harvard University found a "50% decrease in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy (milk or lowfat yogurt) per day compared to those without any intake."
Increase HDL (good) cholesterol
According to a clinical trial published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat yogurt everyday can increase their “good” cholesterol. The clinical trial followed 29 women for 21 weeks as they ate 300 grams of yogurt. The findings of the trial showed an increase in HDL cholesterol in 38% of the participants.
A research conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle discovered that yogurt consumption is associated with reduced hunger. It has been found that consuming yogurt can curb cravings throughout the day.
Which kind of yogurt?
First off, always pick organic, GMO-free yogurt. I can’t stress this enough.
Higher price is an indication of higher quality. So don’t cheap out.
When it comes to choosing between plain yogurt or flavored ones, I prefer the former. I like to flavor myself, adding fresh fruit, honey, nuts, dried fruit, or syrups. No hidden sugars, preservatives of additives.
What is your favorite way to eat yogurt? What do you like to add? Or are you a plain kind of person?