Yogurt (also known as yoghurt) is a preferred food for breakfast, lunch or nibbling that is available in the dairy aisle of grocery stores. Yogurt is a dense/ solid food stuff akin to custard or pudding and is prepared by fermenting milk in the normal bacterial fermentation.

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The procedure involved in preparing yogurt entails culturing milk or cream employing live and dynamic bacterial cultures. This is completed by the direct addition of bacteria to milk. However, the commercial preparation of yogurt is generally done using a culture of Streptococcus thermophilis and Lactobacillus acidophilus. A number of yogurt manufacturers prefer using Lactobacillus bulgaricus to Lactobacillus acidophilus. When yogurt is prepared at home, the process generally begins by adding a bit of commercially prepared yogurt to boiled milk and subsequently, storing the mixture at about 112°F (45°C).

Precisely speaking, the presence of bacteria in milk brews as well as forms a mass to condense the milk giving it a creamy consistency, adding a pungent, somewhat acerbic taste.

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In fact, while it is possible to prepare yogurt from any type of mammal milk, it is mainly prepared from the milk obtained from cows, goats and buffalos. It may be noted that an alcoholic form of yogurt 'kefir' was initially prepared from brewed camel milk, but currently it is prepared from cow milk. Kefir is available from select stores selling natural food and its alcohol content is roughly 2.5 per cent.

An assortment of yogurt having different levels of fat is available without much difficulty in the market. Simple yogurt is normally prepared from cow milk and is neither flavored, nor sweetened. On the other hand, seasoned or spiced yogurt usually contains fruit or flavoring, together with lots of sugar. Sugar is not only added for sweetening yogurt, but also to facilitate preserving the fruit in the yogurt. Another variety, the frozen yogurt is the yogurt adaptation of soft ice cream. In general, when it is prepared at home, frozen yogurt is made consistent by adding gelatin.

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In various cultures in the West, people take pleasure in yogurt by consuming it in various ways - most popular among them is by preparing a cool dish combined with fruit. In addition, you may also use yogurt to prepare shakes that are beneficial for our body or frozen to consume it as ice cream. You may also use yogurt in culinary, as a substitute for milk, sour cream and also a number of cheese varieties. In the Middle East, people often serve yogurt along with vegetables, meat as well as meat sauces. Yogurt may also be blended with additional sauces or employed in the form of a flavorful spoonful on top of one's meal.

While buying yogurt from any store, you ought to always examine the label to learn whether it has been prepared with live bacterial cultures. In case yogurt has undergone heat treatment or pasteurization following the addition of cultures, it is very much possible that the cultures will die off. Yogurt that has been prepared in the proper manner will remain in good condition when stored in a refrigerator at about 40°F (4°C) for a maximum period of ten days. Following this period, the cultures will turn out to be feeble.

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In the past, yogurt prepared for the first time most probably was made from goat milk that was fermented in bags made of goatskin and carried by the ancient nomadic people who were natives of Turkey. Currently, in the United States, yogurt is mainly prepared with cow milk, but it is also made with the milk of goats, buffalos, sheep and also camels in various other parts of the world.

Preparing yogurt at home is very simple and low-cost. Just boil the milk, reduce its temperature to about 112°F (45°C) and subsequently, add a dollop of yogurt bought from the store to a little amount of the milk. Blend this mixture properly and then put in the remaining warm milk. It is important to store the entire thing in a warm place for more than a few hours with a view to enable the yogurt to set. After the yogurt has been made, immediately store it in the refrigerator. In order to make the yogurt more flavourful, add honey, jam, fresh fruits or any other thing that may strike your imagination. This way, you will be able to relish yogurt better.

Yogurt is very high in nutrient content, enclosing protein, calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and riboflavin. Yogurt possesses dietary value beyond those that are provided by milk. In fact, individuals who are reasonably lactose-intolerant may eat yogurt sans any side effects, since a large amount of lactose present in milk precursor is transformed into lactic acid owing to bacterial culture.

In a randomized trial it was found that yogurt enclosing live bacterial cultures is effectual in preventing diarrhea related to antibiotics. In effect, it has been found in a bigger and meta-analysis of 25 randomized, controlled experiments that the use of probiotics, counting a number of ordinary cultures that are used in yogurt, are also useful in putting off diarrhea associated with antibiotics. However, it was found that a particular bacterial culture, Saccharomyces boulardii, which is usually not present in yogurt, was helpful in curing Clostridium difficile infection (contagion by a bacterium existing without risk in the stomach of several people).

As mentioned earlier, yogurt encloses changeable levels of fat. Yogurt having different fat contents, such as non-fat (0 per cent fat); low fat (generally two per cent fat) as well as plain or whole milk (four per cent fat), are available in the market. Findings of a research reported in the International Journal of Obesity (dated January 11, 2005) also detected that consuming low-fat yogurt is helpful in promoting weight loss, particularly owing to the calcium present in the yogurt.

Health benefits of yogurt

Compared to milk, it is easy to digest yogurt. Several people who find difficulty in digesting milk owing to lactose-intolerance or protein allergy are able to digest yogurt easily and without any side effects. Precisely speaking, the process of bacteria culturing makes it easier for people to digest yogurt in comparison to milk. Live and dynamic bacterial cultures generate lactase, an enzyme which is deficient in people enduring lactose-intolerance. In addition, one more enzyme beta-galactosidase, which is present in a number of yogurt varieties, also facilitates in enhancing the absorption of lactose by people who are lactose-intolerant.

It may be noted that to some extent, bacterial enzymes that are produced by means of the culturing method absorb the milk protein called casein, making it comparatively simple to digest yogurt and also less allergenic. In pediatric (the stream of science dealing with infants and their ailments) practice, it has been detected that children, who are unable to stomach milk, are able to consume yogurt frequently with no intestinal disorder. Although the amount differs depending on the brand of yogurt, by and large, yogurt possesses a smaller amount of lactose compared to milk. In fact, by now, the bacterial culturing procedure has disintegrated the milk sugar lactose into glucose plus galactose - two sugars which can be digested without difficulty by people enduring lactose-intolerance.

Yogurt also plays a role in improving the health of colon. In medicine, there is a saying stating that one is just as healthy as his/ her colon. When you are consuming yogurt, you are actually paying attention to the health of your colon in two different ways. Firstly, yogurt encloses lactobacteria, which are basically bacterial cultures that are good for the intestines and promote a robust colon, while diminishing the risks of developing colon cancer. Lactobacteria, particularly acidophilus, stimulate the development of beneficial bacteria in the colon, while lowering the adaptation of bile into carcinogenic bile acids. It is important to note that when additional such intestine-friendly bacteria exist in the colon, the lesser the risks of developing colon diseases. On the whole, presence of such beneficial bacteria in yogurt appears to neutralize detrimental substances, for instance nitrites and nitrates prior to them being transformed into nitrosamines, and earlier than they may turn carcinogenic.

The second way in which you are taking care of your colon by consuming yogurt is by ingesting lots of calcium. In effect, yogurt has rich calcium content and this mineral plays an important role in improving the health of colon as well as diminishing the risks of developing colon cancer. In addition, calcium also puts off the unnecessary growth of the cells that form the inside layer of the colon, which may enhance the risks of developing colon cancer in a person. Calcium also attaches to bile acids that produce cancer and prevents them from exasperating the walls of the colon. People who take diets that are rich in calcium content, for instance people in the Scandinavian nations, have reduced incidents of colorectal cancer. According to the findings of one research demonstrated that the standard ingestion of 1,200 mg of calcium daily is related to a 75 per cent lessening of colorectal cancer.

Yogurt is also useful in enhancing the bio-availability of additional nourishments. In fact, culturing of yogurt augments the digestion of calcium as well as B-vitamins (particularly, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12). Lactic acid present in the yogurt helps in digesting the milk calcium by making it simpler for the stomach to take in.

Yogurt also helps to perk up the immune system. Scientists who have examined 68 individuals who consumed two cups (500 ml) of live-culture yogurt every day for three months consecutively detected that these people produce elevated levels of interferon, a substance that boosts immunity. It has also been found that the bacterial cultures in yogurt invigorate the white cells in the blood stream that combat infections. A number of researches undertaken on animals have also demonstrated that yogurt cultures comprise a feature that has an anti-tumour consequence.

In addition, yogurt also facilitates in recovery following infections of the intestines. A number of allergic and viral gastrointestinal problems harm the cells lining the intestines, particularly that cells that make lactase. This action leads to momentary problems related to lactose mal-absorption. This is the primary cause as to why children are time and again unable to stomach milk for roughly a couple of months following any contagion of the intestines.

However, since yogurt encloses a smaller amount of lactose and extra lactase, it is more often than not tolerated better by recuperating intestines and is a well-accepted curative food for diarrhea. Several pediatricians suggest that children enduring different types of indigestion should take yogurt. Findings of many studies reveal that children suffering from diarrhea generally recuperate more rapidly when they consume yogurt. In addition, consuming yogurt while taking antibiotics is beneficial for the body, as it diminishes the side effects of taking antibiotics on the beneficial bacteria present in the intestines. Findings of a research undertaken in 1999 and published in Pediatrics revealed that lactobacillus organisms possess the aptitude to lower diarrhea that is associated with taking antibiotics.

Yogurt also has the ability to lessen incidents of contagion by yeast. Several studies have shown that consuming eight ounces of yogurt containing live as well as dynamic bacterial cultures every day lessens the quantity of yeast settlements in the vagina as well as diminishes the occurrences of yeast infections in the vagina.

As discussed earlier in this article, yogurt is rich in calcium content. Taking a serving of 8 ounce of most types of yogurt supplies the body with 450 mg of calcium, which tantamount to about 50 per cent of the RDA of a child and as much as 30 to 40 per cent RDA of an adult for calcium. Since the live and dynamic bacterial cultures present in yogurt augment the calcium absorption by the body, a serving of 8 ounce of yogurt enables the body to receive more calcium compared to taking the same volume of milk.

As most of us are aware, yogurt is also rich in protein content. Plain yogurt encloses roughly 10 grams to 14 grams of protein in every eight ounce serving, which actually sums up to 20 per cent of the every day protein requirement for majority of the people. In effect, every eight-ounce serving of yogurt containing live and dynamic bacterial cultures comprises 20 per cent additional protein compared to an equal amount of milk (10 grams opposed to eight grams). Apart from being an excellent source of protein, the culturing milk proteins with bacteria during the fermentation process making it much easier for the stomach to absorb the proteins. This is the main reason why proteins present in yogurt are frequently termed as 'pre-digested'.

Yogurt also has the ability to lessen the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Findings of a few studies have revealed that yogurt is able to decrease the levels of blood cholesterol. It is believed that this action may perhaps be owing to the live and active bacterial cultures in yogurt which have the ability to absorb the bad cholesterol or owing to the fact that yogurt attaches to bile acids - that has also demonstrated to reduce cholesterol, or both.

Before concluding, it needs to be reiterated that yogurt is a 'grow food'. Yogurt has two specific nutritional attributes that may perhaps assist children enduring intestinal assimilation disorders - making the digestion of proteins simpler and also the lactic acid present in yogurt augmenting the absorption of different minerals. In effect, it has been found that even the choosiest eaters will consume yogurt in the form of dips as well as smoothies as well as topping on foods.

Maybe, we may take a tip regarding our wellbeing vis-à-vis yogurt cultures from the people who eat plenty of yogurts, for instance the people of Bulgaria, who are well-known for their comparatively long existence as well as for being in excellent health till the time they are in their old age.


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