Dietitians Dish: Yogurt: Good healthy choice
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Yogurt comes in many different tastes, textures and forms. You will find that you like some varieties better than others. The plain variety of yogurt offers the most flexibility of flavors, and depending on how it is prepared or presented, can be savory, tangy or sweet.
The Food and Drug Administration defines yogurt as a food produced by culturing one or more dairy ingredients (cream, milk, partially skimmed milk or skim milk) with a lactic acid producing bacteria (lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus).
The National Yogurt Association at aboutyogurt.com describes the variations of yogurts as:
Non-fat yogurt contains less than 0.5 percent milk fat
Low-fat yogurt contains 0.5 to 2 percent milk fat
Light yogurt contains 50 percent less fat or one-third fewer calories compared to the regular product
Swiss or custard, also known as blended yogurt
Frozen yogurt contains active yogurt cultures
Heat-treated, liquid or drinkable yogurt
Made with active cultures (all yogurts)
Sundae or fruit on the bottom
Many yogurts provide probiotics or good bacteria. Look for the live and active culture seal to identify yogurt with probiotics.
Companies volunteer to provide the seal, which designates that the yogurt had 100 million live and active cultures per gram at the time of manufacturing and that frozen yogurt had 10 million live and active cultures per gram. Heat treated yogurt and yogurts without the seal may not contain live and active culture, even though they were made with live cultures.
Yogurt offers calcium and phosphorus for strong bones. Look for yogurts that also contain vitamin D. Not all will provide vitamin A and or D, particularly Greek and frozen yogurts.
Strained yogurt, better known as Greek yogurt, is a thicker, creamier consistency yogurt that offers about twice the protein per serving than regular yogurt.
Yogurts may be sweetened with a variety of nutritive sweeteners, such as sugar, beet or cane, invert sugar, brown sugar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, maltose, honey and maple sugar, to name a few.
The light variety of yogurt may contain a non-nutritive sweetener or a sugar substitute.
Yogurt makes a great addition to a recipe, meal, dessert or as a snack.
Use non-fat or light yogurt for a healthy option to reduced saturated fat or overall calories from your diet, respectively.
Incorporate plain, non-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt for healthy ingredient substitutions by using:
Yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise in recipes such as in dips and salad dressings.
Low fat or 2 percent Greek yogurt as an alternative for butter, sour cream, creme fraiche or heavy cream in a recipe.
Non-fat plain yogurt to brighten a dish by adding a dollop to soup, chili, potatoes or where you might use sour cream as a garnish.
Yogurt at breakfast as alternative to syrup on whole-grain pancakes or waffles, spiced or with fruit.
Freeze any variety of yogurt, alone or with fruit, as popsicle or in ice molds for a portion controlled refreshing treat this summer.
Add a little culture, pick the yogurt that best fits into your diet plan, need and taste preference.
Check out a couple of resources for recipes at NationalDairyCouncil.org/recipes or AboutYogurt.com/recipes.Jami Martin is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.