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Perk up your diet with yoghurt

health-and-fitness Updated: Mar 21, 2007 12:06 IST
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Yoghurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk, which transforms milk’s sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yogurt its tart flavour and pudding-like texture — a quality reflected in its original Turkish name, ‘Yoghurmak’, which means ‘to thicken’.

Yoghurt is a good source of calcium, phosphorous, riboflavin-vitamin B2 and iodine. It is also a good source of vitamin B12, vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, and protein. These 10 nutrients alone make yogurt a super food.

But what makes yoghurt most healthy, is its composition of live bacteria.

Strengthens the immune system: Lactobacillus casei, the live bacteria found in cultured foods like yoghurt, helps you to live longer, and fortify your immune system. Research has shown that increased yoghurt consumption enhances the immune response, which in turn increases resistance to immune-related diseases.

Lowers cholesterol levels: Daily consumption of 100 g of yogurt can help improve cholesterol profile, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.

Including calcium-rich dairy products like yogurt your diet, decreases body fat.

Although, how yoghurt promotes fat loss is still a debate, it can be attributed to the fact that calcium reduces fat cells’ ability to store fat. So cells burn more fat, and less of it is produced in the liver. Or, the reduction of fat may be due to branched chain amino acids present in dairy products.

Regardless, it has been confirmed that one or two servings of yoghurt in your daily diet can help maximise fat loss with minimum loss of muscle.

Strong bones It’s not just its calcium that makes yogurt good for the bones; milk and fermented milk products also contain lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein that boosts the growth and activity of osteoblasts -cells that build bone. Not only does lactoferrin increase osteoblast differentiation, it also reduces the rate at which these cells die by up to 50-70 per cent.

Lactoferrin also decreases the formation of osteoclasts (cells responsible for breaking down bone) and thus helps prevent, or reverse, osteoporosis. In addition, lactoferrin also increases the number of chondocytes, cells that build cartilage.

Anti-inflammatory action: Lactobacillus in yoghurt offers relief from arthritis as it has beneficial effects in inflammatory diseases like inflammatory bowel disorders. Yoghurt also is effective in healing and preventing ulcers.

Yoghurt prevents bad breath: Consuming at least 90 grams of yoghurt twice a day not only lowers levels of hydrogen sulphide and other compounds responsible for bad breath, but also eliminates tonguecoating bacteria and reduces dental plaque formation, and cavities. Just a few ways to enjoy yoghurt:
Top your daily cup of yogurt with nuts, grapes, berries or dried fruit for a quick and sustaining snack.

Creamy yoghurt, salt, and freshly ground pepper make a great topping for baked potatoes, and other cooked vegetables. For a creamy salad dressing or dip, mix a cup of yoghurt with a quarter cup of extra olive oil and herbs and spices.

(Compiled by Insiya Amir)

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