Our list of the best and worst foods in the world continues with good old-fashioned YOGURT – commonly held to be a healthy option… but is it? I know I ate bucketfuls of the Dannon variety (with the sugary fruit on the bottom) when I was a kid.
There’s a wide variety of yogurts on the market today but I’m going to concentrate on the two most popular – American and Greek. Both are made by adding two specific strains of bacteria to milk, either whole, part skim, or skim. Some counties don’t allow the heating process (pasteurizing) to occur and only sell “live” yogurt with active bacteria in it. Other’s that are pasteurized must be labeled as such.
So what’s the deal with yogurt? Is it good for you or not?
Obviously taste comes to mind first as most yogurts are sweetened, either naturally or artificially, to taste as good as possible. There is a ridiculous amount of flavors available making it really difficult to find a taste you don’t like!
Yogurt is convenient, relatively cheap, easily accessible, and can be used in many recipes. Due to milk being the main ingredient it has a decent amount of protein, a little sugar and is low in fat. The industry markets yogurt – primarily for the “active cultures” – as a healthy snack claiming it can prevent constipation, enhance immune functions and digestive health, and provide heart-protecting benefits. Apparently the “good” bacteria used to make yogurt also helps to prevent the growth of bad bacteria that can cause infections and diseases. And of course, yogurt benefits from all of milk’s supposed benefits like being rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Yogurt is made from MILK!
Check out my recent Taste It Or Waste It to understand how I feel about including milk in your diet. Many of the “sugared” varieties contain way too many calories and end up more like dessert than a nutritious product. Yogurt is like chocolate in the sense that the plain, unsweetened variety is the best one for you, but also the one no eats because it tastes terrible! Think about it, yogurt has to have sugar or sweetener added to it for it to be palatable. How can that be healthy?
On the surface, yogurt like milk, sounds like a very nutritious product, however all of the health issues surrounding milk carry over into this creamy product and once again cannot be ignored. While in the “live” variety it does possess healthy bacteria, the evidence is really inconclusive as to whether or not it is actually good for you. With probiotics now available in pill form, I don’t think you need to eat yogurt for it‘s supposed immune and digestive support qualities. And in my opinion the other ingredients added to it for flavor outweigh the potential benefits. Due to a slight difference in processing, the Greek version is creamier, has more protein per serving, and a bit less sugar, which in my opinion, makes it the better choice of the two.
That said – despite all of yogurt’s faults – if given the choice between ice cream and frozen yogurt, I’d opt for the latter. Frozen yogurt has less fat, less sugar, and ‘healthy bacteria’- so is definitely the lesser of two evils…