A few months ago, my husband and I started eating yogurt every morning for breakfast. Initially, it was used as a vehicle for devouring the homemade granola I’m obsessed with making, but we quickly realized that we also enjoyed the protein boost to our mornings.
Yes, There Are Good Bacteria
Upon further reading and research, I discovered that another great benefit of including yogurt in our daily diets was the “cultural” aspect of the food. Eating yogurt with live and active cultures is a great way to replace some of the healthy bacteria we naturally lose just by living life.
Yogurt starts off as pasteurized milk that’s been mixed with two live active cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which help with healthy digestion and give yogurt its creamy texture and tangy taste.
If you’re a regular yogurt eater, you may have heard about probiotics. These are additional good bacteria added to yogurt that have stronger health benefits than standard live active cultures. Probiotics also reach the gut while alive, so they have a greater impact on digestive health. Not all yogurts contain probiotics, so read up on your favorite brand to make sure it has these beneficial ingredients.
Go With Your Gut
According to Julie Van Rosendaal, food and nutrition expert for CBC Radio, “the nutritional appeal of yogurt, besides its calcium and protein, is its active cultures. The underlying principle behind probiotics is that they are able to assist your naturally-occurring gut flora to reestablish themselves and boost their ranks, enabling them to more effectively fight an ongoing war against bad bacteria."
These healthy bacteria are not unlike what already live in our digestive tracts, but as we grow and age, our supplies are depleted by antibiotics and illness. Eating yogurt that’s comprised of live cultures can replace some of the bacteria that have been lost.
Because the live cultures in yogurt break down most of the milk's lactose into lactic acid, people who can't easily tolerate lactose may be able to enjoy yogurt with live active cultures and get milk's nutritional benefits with fewer digestive problems.
Try This Delicious Recipe
How do you get more yogurt in your family’s diet? That’s easy: One of my favorite uses is the Brilliant Blueberry Smoothie. With blueberries, orange juice and low-fat yogurt, it’s perfect for breakfast or an after-school snack. Try it, and I think you’ll see it’s easy to become part of the edible, drinkable culture club.
Jan Scott is a food writer, blogger and party planner. She is the food editor for SavvyMom Media and the creative behind Family Bites, a blog inspired by the simple recipes and party ideas she’s put to the test on her family.