Photo: Flickr/Michael Bentley
Yogurt is now the fastest-growing food segment in America. This is largely thanks to Greek yogurt, a thicker, creamy variety that delivers the same nutrients with less fat than its non-Greek counterparts. In the last three years, sales of Greek yogurt have jumped more than 100 per cent. The rising popularity of yogurt is not only linked to its great taste, portability and versatility, the smooth dairy food is also good for the body, particularly if you stick to plain, non-fat or low-fat types.
Yogurt is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, which are both necessary for maintaining healthy bones. 'A 6-ounce serving of yogurt usually contains about 20 per cent of your daily needs for calcium and Vitamin D,' says Mckittrick. 'Vitamin D isn't naturally found in yogurt, but most companies tend to add it in,' like they do with some milk varities.
Since not all yogurts contain the same amount of calcium and Vitamin D, it's important to check the nutrition labels, she adds.
A 6-oz serving of yogurt contains up to 10 grams of protein. That's equal to a two- to three-ounce serving of meat, says Mckittrick. Greek yogurt contains even more -- 15 to 20 grams per 6-ounce package.
The protein in yogurt isn't only good for muscle repair and growth, it also also fills you up. 'Studies also suggest that a higher protein breakfast can curb hunger later in the day,' says Mckittrick.
This makes yogurt a perfect pre- or post-workout snack.
In addition to keeping you feeling full longer, Harvard researchers found that bacterial cultures in yogurt help to shed pounds.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that people who ate a serving of yogurt every day lost an average of one pound every four years.
'Our gastro-intestinal tract contains numerous microorganisms -- some good and some bad,' Mckittrick explains.
'Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics that can help with certain GI conditions, including constipation, diarrhoea and inflammatory bowel disease.'
Yogurt is rich in potassium, which can help to lower blood pressure. It's also high in calcium, a lack of which contributes to high blood pressure.
Forget vitamin and mineral supplements. In addition to calcium and vitamin D, yogurt is an excellent source of potassium, zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, iodine and Vitamin B12.
Yogurt contains lactic acid, a friendly bacteria that has been shown to fight gum diseases, like gingivitis, that cause bad breath.
The benefits of yogurt extend to skin care. It turns out the smooth, creamy stuff is also a natural exfoliate. The lactic acid in yogurt is also found in some in-office chemical peels, dermatologist Hema Sundaram, MD told Health.com.
For a DIY moisturizing face mask, mix two tablespoons plain yogurt with one tablespoon of honey and one to two tablespoons of cooked oatmeal. Smear over the face and leave on for about 15 minutes. Then rinse.
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