Everything You Need to Know About Yogurt

Know it all. Are the probiotics found in yogurt enough to make frozen yogurt good for you?

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Nutritional And Scientific Facts About Yogurt

Yogurt is a versatile, healthy, and popular snack among both young and old. It is one of the most popular forms of dairy in the world, and is enjoyed throughout many different cultures and dishes. Yogurt is simply live bacteria being added to milk, and then fermented. It does not sound appetizing when you think about it in that nature, but it is healthy for your digestive system and it tastes good too! It can be consumed in the form of a snack or sauce, or even in desserts and yogurt dips.

Fun Facts About Yogurt

  • Greek yogurt has double the protein that regular yogurt has.
  • “Yogurt can be a delicious addition to literally every meal.” [1]
  • “Yogurt is believed to have originated thousands of years ago in Eastern Europe and Asia.” [2]
  • The word yogurt is Turkish. [3]
  • “According to certain accounts, Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire, consumed yogurt with his armies.”
  • “Yogurt with fruit at the bottom was invented in 1947 by Dannon, who decided to add strawberry to their product hoping Americans would enjoy it more.”
  • “The first industrialized production of yogurt is attributed to Isaac Carasso in 1919 in Barcelona – his company “Danone” was named for his son, “Little Daniel.” [4]

History/Mythology of Yogurt

The word yogurt is Turkish, and its root yog means “to condense or intensify.” According to Dairy Goodness, “Most historical accounts attribute yogurt to the Neolithic peoples of Central Asia around 6000 B.C. Herdsmen began the practice of milking their animals, and the natural enzymes in the carrying containers (animal stomachs) curdled the milk, essentially making yogurt.” [4] This process actually came about by accident, and the flavor and consistency of the yogurt was enjoyed by people, so it eventually stuck around.

Fast forward to 1542 in France, and it is recorded that the king (Francois I) was having severe gastrointestinal problems, and they couldn’t find anything to relieve his symptoms. According to Down To Earth, “Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of the throne of France, sent a doctor who cured the king with yogurt: the news of the benefits of this unknown food started to spread in France and in Europe.” [5]

In the early 1900s the company Dannon was created, and an industrial process was created to make yogurt in factories under a specific method. Today “we make yogurt by pasteurising milk, enriching it with powder milk to boost its protein and calcium content, then heating it to 43°C and adding two types of bacteria: Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. The variety of flavours and packaging we are familiar with were also introduced throughout the 20th century, with added fruit jam in 1933 (patented in Poland), fruit yogurts in 1937, cardboard pots in the 1950s and blended yogurt in 1963.” [5]

Nutritional Facts of Yogurt

Yogurt is packed full of friendly vitamins, minerals, and probiotics which all aid in better gut health overall. There are two types of protein that can be found in yogurt, one of them being whey and the other casein. Yogurt in general has a lot of protein, with 80% of it being caseins. Casein can help lower blood pressure and increase the amount of minerals that are absorbed, such as calcium and phosphorus. [6] Whey protein accounts for the other 20 percent, but it still packs a mighty punch. Whey protein is very high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and may aid weight loss and lowering blood pressure. [6]

The fat and protein content greatly depend on which kind of yogurt you are eating, as regular whole yogurt does not contain as much fat and protein as Greek yogurt does; Greek yogurt is strained, and its fat and protein become concentrated in less volume. We would all love it if frozen yogurt contained all of the health benefits that regular yogurt holds, but we know that is not the case based on its sugar content. In regards to carbs, there is a small amount of carbs that come directly from sugar or lactose which is also referred to as milk sugar. Other forms of sugar can be directly added in by the manufacturer, and this amount of sugar can vary greatly depending on brand, flavor, and fat percentage.

Regarding actual vitamins and minerals, regular yogurt is loaded with vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Because there are so many different types of yogurt on the market today these nutritional values will differ. Depending on whether or not it is Greek, low fat, regular, or fat free, there are different values associated with each. The lower the fat the higher the processed sugar typically, so it is best to opt for a fattier yogurt with less sugar for optimal benefits.

Health Benefits of Yogurt

As stated above, the less sugar the better the yogurt will be for you, which is why Greek yogurt has become so popular in today’s society. It packs more protein and less sugar per bite, which will keep hunger away for longer periods of time. There are many different health benefits to having yogurt around the house, and sometimes it doesn’t even have to be eaten. Yogurt can be used as a natural face mask because it contains lactic acid which works the same as a chemical peel treatment would. It also works to naturally exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead skin cells that are clogging pores. [7]

On top of yogurt being a good source of protein and healthy fats, it also contains probiotics, which are great for maintaining optimal gut health. And, as stated above, yogurt helps lower blood pressure. In addition, Authority Nutrition tells us that “one cup also provides 38% of your daily need for phosphorus, 12% for magnesium and 18% for potassium. These minerals are essential for several biological processes, such as regulating blood pressure, metabolism and bone health.” [8] 

On top of how good it tastes, there are many health benefits to consuming yogurt that go past face masks. Yogurt has the ability to ward off osteoporosis due to its calcium content, strengthen your immune system from intruders, and provide you an ample amount of protein per serving.

How To Make Yogurt

It is one thing to buy your favorite yogurt at the grocery store, and indulge but another to make it from scratch. It is relatively easy, but will take some time and monitoring to ensure it is being made correctly. It saves on cost long term, and it tastes delicious, so there are really no downsides to it other than the time it takes. The recipe comes from The Kitchn, and it has been popular with many people.

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon milk — whole or 2% are best, but skim can also be used
  • 1/2 cup commercial yogurt containing active cultures

 Equipment

  • 3 quart or larger Dutch oven or heavy saucepan with a lid
  • Spatula
  • Instant-read or candy thermometer (one that can clip to the side of the pan)
  • Small measuring cup or small bowl
  • Whisk

Directions

  1. Heat the milk. Pour the milk into the Dutch oven and set over medium to medium-high heat. Warm the milk to right below boiling, about 200°F. Stir the milk gently as it heats to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch and the milk doesn’t boil over.
  2. Cool the milk. Let the milk cool until it is just warm to the touch, 112°F to 115°F, or it will be too hot and kill the culture. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.
  3. Thin the yogurt with milk. Scoop out about a cup of warm milk with a measuring cup and add the yogurt to it. Whisk until smooth and the yogurt is dissolved in the milk.
  4. Whisk the thinned yogurt into the milk. Pour the thinned yogurt into the warm milk while whisking gently. This inoculates the milk with the yogurt culture.
  5. Transfer the pot to the (turned-off) oven. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and place the whole pot in a turned-off oven – turn on the oven light or wrap the pot in towels to keep the milk warm as it sets (ideally around 110°F).
  6. Wait for the yogurt to set. Let the yogurt set for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight – the exact time will depend on the cultures used, the temperature of the yogurt, and your yogurt preferences. The longer yogurt sits, the thicker and more tart it becomes.
  7. Cool the yogurt. Once the yogurt has set to your liking, remove it from the oven. If you see any watery whey on the surface of the yogurt, you can either drain this off or whisk it back into the yogurt before transferring to containers. Whisking also gives the yogurt a more consistent creamy texture. Transfer the yogurt to storage containers, cover, and refrigerate. Homemade yogurt will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  8. Your next batch of homemade yogurt. Once you start making your own yogurt, you can use some of each batch to culture your next batch. Just save 1/2 cup to use for this purpose.
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Upon receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in college, and competing at a Division 1 level for tennis Lauren has loved writing for many years. She specializes in health and nutritional topics, which has come from the decades of high level education from her competitive tennis days where she worked with nutritionists, strength coaches, and mental coaches full time. After graduation she went onto compete at a professional level for tennis, in which injury sidelined her career. She then jumped straight into the health and wellness space working for a nutritional company, as well as writing for multiple health organizations to date.

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