1 As a by-product of milk, yoghurt gives a dose of protein, along with a hit of calcium, magnesium and potassium.
2 In preventing and treating osteoporosis, the doses of calcium and vitamin D delivered by yoghurt have a “clear skeletal benefit”, says Jeri Nieves, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes hospital.
3 Vitamin D is often lacking in the UAE population, notes Spinneys’ nutritionist Freda Molamphy, because the heat makes most avoid the sun. Consumption of yoghurt can help with this deficiency.
4 Yoghurt is also rich in vitamins B6 and B12. The latter is “essential”, says Molamphy, and “often lacking in vegetarian diets”, which makes yoghurt a helpful supplement if you have sworn off meat and fish but are still allowing yourself dairy products.
5 ‘Live’ yoghurt is so called because it contains active (probiotic) cultures – described by Molamphy as “good gut-health bacteria.” She advises buyers to check that their yoghurt includes L Bulgaricus, S-thermophilus or Bifidus (bifidobacterium), which occur naturally in the digestive system but are often destroyed by poor eating habits or by taking antibiotics. Eating live yoghurt can replenish those agents and aid healthy digestion, especially for sufferers of constipation, diarrhoea and other intestinal complaints.
6 Some of the above probiotics are thought to boost the immune system. Research has shown that they can help improve resistance to and recovery from gastric and respiratory infections among the elderly. A recent Taiwanese study also showed those probiotic agents improved the success of medical therapies for H. pylori infections (which can also cause stomach ulcers) of the stomach and small intestine.
7 Greek yoghurt in particular makes a healthy option for dessert. The traditional methods developed in Greece actually drain off excess lactose, leaving a more concentrated substance with a sharper, tarter flavour profile.
8 Candida, responsible for ‘yeast infections’, is especially common in women suffering diabetes, but tests have shown that eating sugar-free yoghurt with active cultures can help lower pH levels and relieve symptoms.
9 Yoghurt can even help lower blood pressure, according to a recent Spanish study on university graduates. Two or three daily servings of low-fat yoghurt were shown to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure by up to 50 per cent.
10 Yoghurt may also help you eat less, albeit in a roundabout way. Tests at the University of Washington found that subjects reported higher ‘fullness’ ratings after snacking on yoghurt. This led them to consume smaller portions at mealtimes.