Yogurt benefits & why you should consume it regularly 

Know about yogurt benefits in one minute

  • Yogurt is easier to digest than milk and contains similar nutrients as milk (the powerhouse of protein, vitamins, and minerals).
  • Improves digestion, gut bacteria and relieves constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance, infection as well as allergies.  
  • Strengthen the immune system and treat summer heat fatigue and related symptoms.
  • Yogurt fights with cancer, arthritis, diabetes, obesity and elderly disease. 
  • It helps to lower appetite, hypertension, osteoporosis, heart-related diseases, and respiratory infections

Introduction

Yogurt is a nutrient-dense, lower-calorie dairy food made by fermentation of milk with bacterial culture. It originated several millennia ago from the Turkish word “yoğurmak,” which means to thicken, coagulate, or curdle. Today, most yogurts are fermented milk that is prepared with viable and well-defined bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles). During yogurt production, these bacteria produce lactic acid, decreasing pH and causing milk protein to coagulate and give its own textural properties. Yogurt benefits because it is an excellent source of casein and whey protein and calcium that enhance healthy gut bacteria (1)

There are various types of yogurt available in the market, although it generally has a similar macronutrient composition as milk. These include whole-milk, low-fat, or nonfat forms; plain or flavored; inclusion of fruit; addition of natural or artificial sweeteners; lactose-free yogurt, aseptic (sterile) yogurt and occasional supplementation with vitamin D. However, skim milk and plain yogurt instead of whole milk yogurt are better for health because the amount of total fat in the diet affects the serum cholesterol level. 

Nutritional value of yogurt

According to USDA yogurt is a low-calorie dairy product and the powerhouse of protein, as well as a rich source of other compounds per 100 g, is as follows (2).

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water  85.07 g
Energy  63 Kcal
Protein  5.25 g
Total lipid (fat)  1.55 g
Carbohydrate 7.04 g
Fiber, total dietary  0 g
Sugar 7.04 g
Calcium 183 mg
Iron, Fe  0.08 mg
Magnesium  17 mg
Phosphorus  144 mg
Potassium  234 mg
Sodium   70 mg
Zinc  0.89 mg
Copper  0.013 mg
Manganese 0.004 mg
Vitamin C 0.8 mg
Thiamin  0.044 mg
Riboflavin 0.214 mg
Niacin 0.114 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.59 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.049 mg
Folate 11 µg
Vitamin B-12 0.56 µg
Vitamin A, RAE 14 µg
Vitamin A, IU 51 IU
Vitamin E 0.03 mg
Vitamin D 1 IU
Vitamin K 0.2 µg
Fatty acids, total saturated  1 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated  0.426 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated  0.044 g

Yogurt benefits 

1. Yogurt helps to promote the growth of healthy bacteria

Yogurt contains bacteria such as Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus sp. as well as Bifidobacterium. These bacteria help to improve the microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans (gut microflora) and fight with infection (3)

Thus daily intake of yogurt serves as a major source of live bacteria (probiotic bacteria) in the human diet. It also acts as a delivery vehicle of live bacteria and their metabolites for enhancing the nutritional value of the diet (4)

2. Yogurt keeps your gastrointestinal healthy

Consumption of yogurt is beneficial to treat certain gastrointestinal conditions, including the inability to digest lactose/sugar (lactose intolerance) and constipation. Ingestion of yogurt effective to treat infectious diarrhea and bowel movement disease (inflammatory bowel disease). Yogurt also helps to treat stomach inflammation caused by Helicobacter pylori infection and allergies as well as enhance gastrointestinal immunity (5)

3. Treat summer heat fatigue (tiredness)

High temperatures in the summer increase the incidence of summer heat fatigue. This heat fatigue is associated with a lack of energy (chronic fatigue), fear of gaining weight (anorexia ), loss of sleep, stress, lack of motivation and catching a cold. Summer heat fatigue is caused by the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. However, yogurt fermented with Lactobacillus bulgaricus stimulates the immune system, reduces the risk of catching colds and ameliorates summer heat fatigue (6)

4. Treat Gout (inflammatory arthritis) and/or hyperuricemia

The excessive accumulation of uric acid causes arthritis or organ damage in both late middle-aged men and women. However daily consumption of yogurt (contain Lactobacillus gasseri) is beneficial to decrease serum uric acid level thus helps to prevent hyperuricemia (7)

5. Yogurt helps to reduce the risk of cancer

The combination of dietary fiber and yogurt consumption reduces the risk of lung cancer (more than 30%). Thus intake of yogurt (containing conjugated linoleic acid) protects against different cancer such as colon and lung cancer (8). 

Benefits of yogurt for different age groups

1. Yogurt benefits on infants and toddlers (aged 4 to 24 months)

Ingestion of yogurt by infant and toddler shows a wonderful effect on the treatment of infectious diarrhea. Yogurt also improves digestion by altering gut microbiota composition and reduces the frequency of itchy inflammation of the skin (atopic dermatitis) (9). Furthermore, the infant and toddler, who are allergic to cow’s milk can tolerate yogurt easily (10)

2. Yogurt benefits on children (2-18 years)

Daily consumption of yogurt shows a wonderful effect on the growth of the children. Yogurt is not only easy-to-digest, nutrient-dense, and satiating food but also contains high concentrations of casein and whey proteins (11). Besides a high amount of specific amino acids as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium present in yogurt. Therefore yogurt may improve diet quality and reduce the risk of diabetes in children (12)

3. Effect on young people during exercise

Ingestion of yogurt during exercise helps to increase strength, muscle thickness and decrease fat mass. It contains probiotic cultures and micronutrients which show a wonderful effect on the suppression of appetite and improve bone health (13). Moreover, the consumption of probiotic yogurt reduces the risk of respiratory infections and their duration. Similarly, yogurt also reduces some of its symptoms such as shortness of breath (dyspnea) and ear pain during swimming. Therefore daily consumption of yogurt by the athlete or young people improves the performance (14).  

4. Yogurt benefits on the obese person

The intake of yogurt is associated with healthy eating in an obese person. Yogurt ingestion by obese people helps to body fat loss (lower BMI), decrease in food intake and increase in satiety. Yogurt also helps to decrease cholesterol level, plasma triglyceride, glycemic and insulin levels in overweight/obese individuals (15)

Furthermore, yogurt consumption may improve digestion and reduce chronic inflammation by enhancing immunity in fatty people (16)Therefore daily intake of these nutrients in the form of yogurt largely contributes to nutrient requirements (17). 

5. Effect on older people

Yogurt is a rich source of calcium, zinc, vitamin B, particularly vitamin B12 and riboflavin. It also contains an abundant amount of protein, and it may be supplemented with vitamin D as well as probiotics. Yogurt benefits in older people are as following 

  1. These nutrients fulfill nutritional deficiencies in older adults and help to treat muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, and blood vessel impairment. 
  2. Yogurt is also effective to treat dysfunction of the immune system (immunosenescence), heart-related diseases (cardiometabolic), and improve remembering and learning capacity (cognitive impairment) in the elderly (18).
  3. All of these vitamins and minerals are especially helpful for preventing osteoporosis (weakness in the bone), type 2 diabetes in older adults (19).
  4. Yogurt contains a good amount of calcium and vitamin D, which helps to regulate blood pressure (BP). Therefore, intake of yogurt at least five servings per week, lower risk of high blood pressure in middle-aged and older adult men and women (20)

Precaution when you buy yogurt

If you have milk related allergies you should take precaution in taking yogurt it may cause a serious problem.

Presence of heavy metals

Yogurt is mostly free of heavy metals such as lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and chromium (Cr) contamination. However, fruit-flavored yogurt and beverage is a high risk of heavy metal contamination such as manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd), which is above the permitted limit (21). Therefore read product labels carefully before buying and simple yogurt without added flavor should be consumed as much as possible (22)

Q &A

Is it good to eat yogurt every day?

Adding yogurt to your diet every day is a good source of dairy protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B-12, conjugated linoleic acid, and other key fatty acids. Also, it contains beneficial bacterial cultures, making it a potential source of probiotics.

What is the best time to eat yogurt?

Yogurt can be eaten in breakfast (not alone), after lunch because this time gastric juice is diluted and promotes the growth of bacteria in the intestine. Additionally, keep in mind if you want to lose weight, you should consume low-fat plain yogurt without sugar, fruit flavor or unnecessary additives and should also be consumed in moderation. 

How much yogurt should you eat a day?

Standardized serving size of yogurt is about 1-2 cups (250-500 grams) or 3 servings of dairy every day (1 serving equates 150–200 g of yogurt) is recommended to adults (23, 24). 

Is it good to eat yogurt at night?

There is a lot of controversy about the use of yogurt at night. According to Ayurveda, the consumption of yogurt at night is not as good as it leads to rheumatoid arthritis and Kapha dosha (mucus formation). Yogurt is characterized as “Krama Viruddha”(food incompatibility) who consume yogurts at night. Therefore if you have a carving of yogurt you should try buttermilk or it is a good option of early evening snacks (25). 

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