Five Tips For Finding The Healthiest Yoghurts In Your Supermarket Aisle

Anthia Koullouros

Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert

Not all yoghurts are equal. There are variations in flavour and consistency such as: thick, thin, runny or firm. It can be derived from dairy such as cow, sheep, goat and buffalo or from a nut, soy or rice base. Typical ingredients of a processed yoghurt
include skim milk, water, cream, milk solids, fruit (5%) strawberry puree, sugar, thickener (1422), gelatine, reconstituted elderberry juice, natural flavours, vegetable gums (410, 440) and live yoghurt cultures. This combination is too complex and contains unnecessary additives for such a health giving food.

image via pinterest

In this article, I refer to yoghurt in its most original form: a fermented dairy milk. This was how yoghurt was first developed and is most widely consumed around the world. Essentially, yoghurt is made by fermenting milk with beneficial bacteria which turns it into a thickened, nutritious food. It is rich in protein, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins and full of life’, good bacteria.

Yoghurt vs Milk

– It stays fresh longer than milk.
– Contains millions of bacteria or culture that is loved and welcomed by your digestive system.
– It can be better tolerated than milk and other dairy products if you are lactose intolerant because the lactose in the milk is converted to glucose and galactose, and partially fermented to lactic acid by the bacterial culture.

Good bugs

– Bacterial culture is used to make yoghurt. They have long, tongue twisting names hence why I like to simply call them “good bugs”. They are sometimes called probiotics which come from Latin and Greek origins meaning ‘pro life’, unlike antibiotics which means ‘anti life’. They include Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus or Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus.
– Extra good bugs are added to yoghurt to further promote intestinal health by restoring the balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. These include Lactobacillus acidophilus, which also lives naturally in the human digestive system and other parts of the body.
– What else do they do for us? They aid in the digestion of food, provide a constant supply of nutrients such as B vitamins and amino acids, produce important substances such as Vitamin K and improve mineral absorption. They also create a healthy stool and bowel motion.

Five tips to finding the healthiest yogurt

1. The milk used to make yoghurt is sourced from healthy, pastured or organic dairy which is free of hormones, other medications and GM ingredients.
2. The milk used is unhomogenised. Homogenisation is where milk is forced at high pressure through small holes to give consistency and uniformity. The fat in milk normally separates and collects at the top. Homogenisation breaks the fat into smaller sizes so it no longer separates. This also allows milk to be sold with varying degrees of fat such as in low fat or skim. This extra step in processing applies more heat after pasteurisation which contributes to nutrient losses.
3. Choose full fat. Full fat yoghurt from healthy dairy is full of essential fats and fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K2 which enhance mineral and protein absorption. It also makes yoghurt taste delicious and satisfying.
4. Stored naturally. Choose pot set or those that haven’t been Ultra heated. Glass is a preferable vessel but some great yoghurts are still sold out of plastic.
5. Free of:

– Artificial colours and flavours
– Bleached industrial sugars, starches and salts. Choose those that are naturally sweetened and flavoured with fruit, herbs and spices
– Artificial sweeteners
– Emulsifiers, which are used to blend 2 or more unblendable substances together to give it a urinform consistency. Often soy based and found when other non natural ingredients are added.
– Thickeners
– Milk powder or milk solids are made by evaporating and spray drying non fat skim milk, whole milk, buttermilk or whey.  First, the milk is concentrated in an evaporator until 50% of the milk solids remain and then taken into a high-heat chamber where the water is evaporated almost instantly leaving fine particles of powdered milk solids. This processed ingredient is devoid of nutrients and has been associated with inflammation in the body. They are added to yoghurt to give a thicker consistency

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