Yogurt Provides Important Nutrients and Promotes Digestive Health

Posted: June 21, 2014

June is dairy month – a time to celebrate the many benefits of consuming nutritious dairy products. From calcium to potassium, dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt contain nine essential nutrients which may help to better manage your weight, reduce your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers...

     Whether it's protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products are a natural nutrient powerhouse.

  • Yogurt is one of the most popular dairy foods. Not only does it contain calcium, potassium, vitamins and minerals, but it also has live, active cultures which help promote digestive health. It’s also a good source of calcium for people who are lactose intolerant. A person who is lactose intolerant lacks enough of the enzyme that digests the sugar in mile. The bacteria in yogurt release an enzyme into the intestine that digests the milk sugar which helps to get rid of gastrointestinal distress.
  • Yogurt made from low fat or fat free milk is best. Watch out for products, especially kid friendly yogurts like squeezable yogurt tubes, yogurt parfaits and yogurt with sprinkles, which are high in added sugar.
  • Greek yogurt is one of the most popular yogurt products on the market. It is made by straining the yogurt so the liquid whey is removed to make it thicker than traditional yogurt. The extra straining process also concentrates yogurt’s protein and reduces the content of calcium and lactose. Its reduced lactose content makes Greek yogurt a popular choice among people with lactose intolerance.
  • Yogurt can be used as a substitution for higher fat products. For example:

     * Use in equal or partial amounts for mayonnaise in potato salad or coleslaw.
* Use instead of sour cream on baked potatoes.
* Replace low fat yogurt for sour cream in casseroles, salad dressings and desserts.

     Below is a yogurt pie recipe you can try for a cool, summer dessert.

3-Inch Yogurt Pie
1 (6 oz.) Graham cracker ready piecrust
2 (8 oz.) fruit flavored low-fat yogurt (strawberry, lemon, blueberry, etc.)
1 (9 oz.) fat free whipped topping, thawed
Garnish with fresh fruit
     In a large bowl fold together the yogurt and whipped topping, blending well.  Spoon into piecrust for a high mounding pie.  Cover pie and freeze until firm (about 4 hours).  To serve, move to refrigerator at least 1 ½ hours before cutting into slices.
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.