Although it's been around for centuries, in recent years, an increasing number of people have begun to recognize the multiple health benefits of yoghurt. In fact, it's so in demand that according to research on dairy markets, production of Greek yoghurt nearly quadrupled from 2008 to 2013 in New York City alone, which should give you an idea of its growing popularity worldwide. Whether you prefer it as a snack or as part of your breakfast, here are 10 great reasons to consider eating more yoghurt and be less wary of eating this dairy.
1. It's packed with protein
As a by-product of milk, yoghurt gives a dose of protein, along with a hit of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Greek yoghurt is one of the most high-protein types, and while this can vary from brand to brand, it typically contains around 17.3g of protein in one 170g container - which is about 35% of the recommended daily amount.
2. It helps banish brittle bones
In the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, getting in regular doses of calcium and vitamin D delivered by yoghurt can have a “clear skeletal benefit”, says Jeri Nieves, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes hospital.
3. It can make you happier
Depite the consistently bright skies, interestingly, vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – is often lacking in the UAE population, according to Spinneys’ nutritionist Freda Molamphy, because the heat makes most people avoid the sun. Consumption of yoghurt can help correct this deficiency, thanks to its high levels of the vitamin - which has been shown to help combat symptoms of depression (as well as boosting our immune system).
4. It's bursting with B vitamins
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. It promotes good gut health
‘Live’ yoghurt is so called because it contains active (probiotic) cultures, which are described by Molamphy as “good gut-health bacteria”. With the gut sometimes being referred to as the "second brain", having a happy gut can positively impact everything from your immune system and weight, to your heart health. Molamphy advises shoppers 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. It helps you stay well more consistently.
Some 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. A recent Taiwanese study also showed that probiotic agents improved the success of medical therapies for infections of the stomach and small intestine, which can also be a cause of stomach ulcers.
7. It's a healthier dessert alternative.
Greek yoghurt makes a particularly healthy option for dessert, whether you like to eat it plain, drizzled with honey or topped with fruits, or mixed into other dessert recipes in place of other inredients of a similar consistency. The traditional yoghurt-making methods developed in Greece actually drain off excess lactose, leaving a more concentrated substance with a sharper, tarter flavour profile.
8. It can protect you from yeast infections.
Candida, which is responsible for yeast infections, is especially common in women suffering from diabetes - but tests have shown that eating sugar-free yoghurt with active cultures can help lower pH levels and relieve symptoms.
9. It can help to lower your blood pressure
Yoghurt can help lower blood pressure, according to a recent Spanish study carried out 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. It'll keep you fuller for longer
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.