Lately I have been seeing a lot of Jamie Lee Curtis scarfing down Dannon’s Activia yogurt and ambushing innocent shoppers in the grocery store aisles. There are other commercials where women happily swap stories of their gastrointestinal irregularity and how yogurt has helped them get “back on track”. And of course, who doesn’t love the Jamie Lee Curtis/Activia Saturday Night Live skit where Jamie Lee’s character proclaims, “What can I say? People need to poop!”
But in all seriousness, this is a post to help educate on yogurt, not poke fun!
Greek yogurt, flavored yogurt, frozen yogurts, and yogurts that perform “double duty” as a laxative – there are many types and varieties to choose. This post will look at the myriad of yogurts available on the market and why yogurt should be a staple on your grocery shopping list.
“Digestive Health” Yogurts
All yogurts have added bacterial cultures to transform lactose (milk sugar) to lactic acid, giving yogurt its tart flavor and pudding-like texture. Some brands have added strains of probiotic cultures that may aid in digestion. Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in our digestive tract.
In our bodies, the healthy balance of probiotics gets disrupted from antibiotic use, poor nutrition, surgery, stress, alcohol, smoking, pollution and aging. Some scientific studies suggest certain strains of probiotics may help treat diarrhea, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Activia contains a specific strain of probiotic, Bifidus Regularis, that may aid in digestion. Stonyfield Farms adds four probiotic strains to all of their yogurts. Their signature probiotic culture is L. rhamnosus, which may help to boost the immune system and digestive health.
Studies on probiotics claiming to aid in digestion are ongoing. Currently there is no conclusive evidence that these yogurts are a cure for IBS and other digestive disorders. Yet yogurt offers a host of other health benefits; therefore, it will not hurt to incorporate one of these yogurts into your daily nutrition routine.
Greek varieties have been stealing the yogurt spotlight in the past several years. Brands like Fage, Oikos (Stonyfield’s Greek yogurt), and Chobani are gaining in popularity. Greek yogurt has a thicker, creamier consistency than your average yogurt. This is from a straining process that removes the whey, or liquid, from the yogurt.
This straining process makes Greek yogurt higher in protein than regular yogurt. For example, a 6 oz serving of Stonyfield’s Organic Low-Fat plain yogurt has 7.5 g of protein vs. 6 oz of Oikos Organic plain Greek yogurt serving up a whopping 16.5 g of protein.
Another difference: Greek yogurt is naturally lower in sugar. This is because Greek yogurt contains less lactose, or milk sugar, than regular yogurt. Stonyfield’s low-fat plain yogurt has 11.2 g of sugar vs. Stonyfield’s Oikos low-fat plain Greek yogurt with 5.9 g of sugar in a 6 oz serving.
If you are a fan of the taste and consistency of Greek yogurt, it can be a key component to weight management. Its higher protein content will keep you full longer. The lower sugar is a great choice for diabetics and others looking to decrease sugar intake.
Soy yogurt is lactose free because it is made from soy milk. This does not mean it is low in sugar because most soy yogurts are flavored; therefore sugar is added to make tasty flavors like blueberry or strawberry. Most brands use all-vegan ingredients, making it a great choice for those avoiding animal products.
The yogurt super-power Stonyfield has infiltrated this market as well with their O’Soy brand. A 6 oz serving of O’Soy blueberry serves up 7 g of protein and 27 g of sugar. There is only 2.5 g of total fat and no artery-clogging saturated fat.
Overall Health Benefits
Yogurt, especially the high-protein Greek yogurt, is an excellent secret weapon to stave off hunger. Fat-free or low-fat versions are best to avoid intake of artery-clogging saturated fat found in yogurts made from whole milk. Beware of high sugar yogurts as well. Fat-free or low-fat plain and Greek yogurt are the lowest sugar options.
If you are not a milk drinker, yogurt is a great way to get calcium in your diet. Some brands include added fiber and omega-3s. And as discussed, some varieties have strains of probiotics that may aid in digestive health and immune function.
Great Ways to Enjoy Yogurt
- Mix low-fat plain Greek yogurt with fresh dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and a dash of salt and pepper for a homemade dip or topping for salmon.
- Use low-fat plain yogurt as a substitution for mayonnaise or sour cream in recipes including salads such as Cole slaw and Mexican dishes.
- Mix low-fat plain or flavored varieties with your morning cereal.
- Use low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt as a base to a homemade smoothie.
As with all foods, remember to eat yogurt in moderation.
Picco, Michael (2008, April 18). Probiotics: What are they?. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from Mayoclinic.com Web site: http://mayoclinic.com/health/probiotics/AN00389
Yogurt. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from The World's Healthiest Foods Web site: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=124#healthbenefits
Stonyfield - Probiotic Cultures. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from Stonyfield Farm Web site: http://www.stonyfield.com/wellness/ProbioticCultures.cfm
Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from Oikos Organic Web site: http://www.oikosorganic.com/greekyogurt/