Y is for…

Yogurt is a common food item, and for some a daily staple.It provides protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals.There are even dairy-free options for those who are lactose intolerant.What really is yogurt?Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that contains millions of micro-organisms. The most common strains …

Yogurt is a common food item and a daily staple for many, providing protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals. For those who are lactose intolerant, a wide variety of dairy-free options are available.

So, what exactly is yogurt? It is a fermented dairy product containing millions of microorganisms, with the most common strains being lactobacillus and streptococcus thermophilus. Both strains are required by the FDA.

The process of making yogurt starts with raw milk, which is then pasteurized and homogenized using heat. Lactic acid bacteria are added once the product has cooled. Unfortunately, most of the bacteria that yogurt is consumed is killed during the heating processes. Products like salad dressings or coated fruit that contain yogurt are shelf-stable and do not contain live cultures – regardless of what the label might claim.

While hot temperatures kill the good bacteria, cold temperatures cause the cultures to go dormant. Frozen yogurt is not regulated, and most do not have active cultures.

After the heating process that destroys all the good bacteria is complete, sugar is added. Bacteria need sugar in some form to grow.

Historically, as early as the Neolithic period, curdled milk was the first yogurt. In Europe during the 16th century, sour milk was added to raw milk to help preserve it. By 1909, Elie Metchnikoff proposed adding lactic acid to raw milk to extend its life, prior to household refrigeration being common. In 1932, the first yogurt factory was established in France, recognizing the potential health benefits of yogurt and selling it in pharmacies.

Today, most yogurts in the refrigerated section are low-fat or non-fat, loaded with fake sugars, over-processed, and fortified. The fortification of fat-soluble vitamins in a non-fat yogurt sounds great on paper but doesn’t work in human physiology. Without the fat in the yogurt or any other food, fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K won’t be absorbed. They need fat in order to be absorbed.

To get the most out of yogurt, check the label for “live cultures”, and choose ones with fewer ingredients, less sugar, and at least some fat. Ideally, protein content is the primary macro to track, but buyer beware: plant protein is not a complete protein, and therefore cannot be counted in your protein for the day.