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Yogurt: Got Culture?

Cultured milk products have been around since prerecorded history. If you take a look at the yogurt section in the grocery store you will be impressed by a number of choices. Organic, spoon-free, soy, light and beverage-style yogurt are but a few of the choices.

Nutritional/ health benefits:

Yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium. Many brands are low in fat and calories and if they contain live and active cultures, that means they contain bacteria that is beneficial for your gut. Yogurt starter cultures and probiotics (bacteria that is beneficial for the gut) are being investigated for their possible role in just about everything from improved digestion and reduced risk of intestinal infection to improved immunity and reduced risk of certain cancers. Yogurt is easy to digest, even for people with lactose intolerance. Some new versions of yogurt even contain vitamin D, which was formerly only added to milk.

Buying tips:

The best choice for yogurt is plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt with live active cultures. Ounce for ounce it contains more calcium and protein and less sugar and calories than sweetened yogurt. You can flavor this yogurt with vanilla and fresh fruit, use it in smoothies or use it in place of sour cream in uncooked recipes.
• The next best choice is yogurt that is “light.” This means it is artificially sweetened and contains fewer calories per cup – about 120 versus up to 240. Some yogurt that are sweetened with sugar can be very high in calories. Check portion size versus calories – the best bet is a yogurt that contains less than 120 calories per cup or 60 calories per small 4 ounce serving.
• Look for the Live Active Culture Seal. This seal shows that a yogurt meets the National Yogurt Association criteria for live and active culture yogurt.
• Read the label to make sure the yogurt you select contains at least 30% of the daily value for calcium per cup. Smaller portions of yogurt, such as a 4-ounce container should contain 15%.
• Select lowfat or nonfat yogurt.
• If you don’t get out in the sun regularly or drink milk you may want to find one of the newer yogurt that contain vitamin D.

Delicious ideas:

Yogurt is an excellent addition to a healthy kitchen. It can be used in place of mayonnaise and sour cream to lower fat and increase calcium in recipes. Follow these tips:
• For dressings, dips and other cold recipes, use plain nonfat yogurt in place of regular sour cream to reduce fat and increase calcium. Save 10 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat per 1/4 cup. Note: plain nonfat yogurt will curdle if heated so you should use nonfat sour cream when cooking.
• Use plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise for salads. If you are making sweet salads such as Waldorf or carrot you can replace all of the mayonnaise with yogurt. For more savory salads such as potato salad, tuna salad or chicken salad, replace half of the mayonnaise with nonfat plain yogurt. Save up to 44 grams of fat per 1/4 cup.
• Use plain nonfat yogurt as a base for salad dressings. Per 1/2 cup yogurt, add 1 tsp oil and 3 Tbsp vinegar. Season with herbs such as oregano, thyme and black pepper for Creamy Italian Dressing. For Honey Mustard, add 1 tablespoon each of mustard and honey.
• Add yogurt to smoothies for creamy, smooth texture with added calcium.
• Create a colorful dessert by layering light vanilla yogurt with assorted fresh fruit in a dessert glass.
• Whip up breakfast on the go by adding your favorite whole grain cereal and fresh fruit to a cup of nonfat light vanilla yogurt. It is nice and thick so it doesn’t spill easily.

DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.

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