Yogurt, the superfood not only known for its health benefits but hailed by experts as the ‘nectar of immortality’, is getting a taste uplift with myriad flavoured options and being recommended as a healthier switch from ice creams and high-calorie sugar-loaded desserts.
Believed to be of Turkish origin, yogurt is an excellent source of vitamin D, protein and calcium and can make up for the meals people are missing out on, says celebrity chef Rakhee Vaswani.
Hailing this bacterial fermented milk product as an ideal option for breakfast, she says, “Just adding yogurt to a smoothie or eating a bowl of it with fruits will be a good way to start your day.” She adds, “It becomes an excellent choice because its quick and won’t leave people feeling hungry. With less fat content and with so many nutrients, a bowl or even two servings of yogurt in a day can help people maintain good health.”
Avinash Dolwani, franchise owner of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt-West India, which recently opened its first outlet in Mumbai, says, “It’s true that most people reach out for something sweet and rich to uplift their mood. But doing this too often can lead to other health issues.
Popular chef Ranveer Brar echoes similar views. He says, “Yogurt is a great super food because it has the creaminess of cream with one third of the fat and the culture benefits of whey. Besides having great taste, its also a great substitute for dessert.”
Watch: The differences and benefits of yogurt
A rich source of micro-nutrients, Brar says it should be a definite addition to everybody’s breakfast.
Adding beaten yogurt instead of cream to gravies reduces the fat percentage and gives a unique taste. Marinated hung yogurt is a low fat substitute to cream cheese. Also, marinating meat in yogurt is a good option.
When asked about why many people avoid curd during cold and rainy season, he said, “In Ayurveda it is said that a bowl of freshly-set yogurt just before sunrise is actually warming in winters. Yogurt soups are another way of incorporating the food product in our meals.”
Rakhee says yogurt, with less fat content when compared to milk, cheese or any other dairy product is a better option, any day. “With the variations that are available today in the market, from gluten-free to sugar-free to fat-free, people have a plethora of choices. Yogurt dips are marvellous toppings and can easily substitute cheese in your daily dressings or sandwiches.”
She says flavoured yogurts are a good variation coming up in the market. “You can even substitute these for your sugar-loaded dessert and still satisfy your sweet-tooth. Even Greek yogurt has become a hit in the culinary industry. The iodine content in this variation keeps the waistline in check and is a great source of protein,” she said.
“Yogurt is the most easily digestible milk product, plus it is a great way to get probiotics into your system without the fat. Even lactose intolerant people can take yogurt in small quantities. Cheese is very high in saturated fats,” he said. “In India, yogurt is highly symbolic and even called the `nectar of immortality’ as it forms the base of the ‘panchamrita’ - honey, sugar, milk, yogurt, and clarified butter. In the centuries-old recipe for ambrosia, yogurt symbolises strength and prosperity,” Dolwani said.
Recommending yogurt strongly for good health, Brar says, “It’s tradition to have ‘raita’ or anything else yogurt based with something heavy as it helps in digestion. Keeping the digestive system in great shape and acting as a coolant are its main health benefits. “With all the great flavours of yogurts available in the market, one can be spoilt for choice,” he added.