An Introduction to yogurt
Most often yogurt starts its life as cow’s milk and only after a process called bacterial fermentation does it become yogurt. During fermentation bacteria produce lactic acid which works on the milk protein to create thick, sharp-tasting yogurt.
The process of digesting milk puts quite a bit of work on the digestive system and many people find it difficult to digest milk if the stomach is not performing well. However, most people can tolerate yogurt quite well, the reason being that it enters the stomach in a pre-digested form, owing to fermentation.
Varieties of Yogurt
Yogurt can be made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, mares, camels, and yaks, with each containing its own flavour and cooking properties. Yogurt from goat’s milk for example, can have a much stronger and perhaps more acquired taste than cow’s milk. Here in the UK it’s a little harder to come by yogurt that’s made from camel or yak milk but again, their flavours are fairly strong.
However, not only do yogurts differ in terms of the animal they stem from, there are many varieties within cow’s yogurt too!
Plain yogurt is the most versatile as it can be added to everything from curries, to smoothies, to breakfast cereals. It can also be consumed as part of a drink such as the Indian lassi. This is a mix of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit making it a tasty savoury snack.
Also, should you feel like trying something a little bit different, plain yogurt can even be made into cheese!
Nevertheless, as you browse the supermarket shelves you’ll see a range of yogurts in many different flavours - everything from vanilla, to strawberry, to toffee. These are also available in a wide range of fat contents from full fat to low fat.
Many of these flavoured yogurts contain added ingredients like sugar, artificial colourings, starch and gelatine to make their product more appealing. Therefore, when doing your weekly shop, it’s good to be label savvy!
A natural yogurt contains a host of B vitamins, as well as minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium. It’s also a good source of protein which is an essential nutrient for the body.
The nutritional values of yogurt vary hugely depending on the brand and how it’s made however, the nutritional values of 100g of plain Greek-style (unsweetened) yogurt are as follows: 97 calories, 3.98g carbohydrates, 4g sugars, 5g fat and 9g protein.
The process of fermentation gives yogurt a whole host of health benefits. It supports the immune system for example, as well as regulating stomach acidity and strengthening bones.
Yogurt also provides protein which is needed to repair tissues and strengthen bones. If you exercise regularly protein can also help to repair and support muscles however, it will not improve muscle mass, only exercise itself will do this!
Calcium, which is also provided by yogurt, helps children to develop strong bones. In adulthood however, it ensures bones remain dense and healthy.
Buckwheat and parsley yogurt burgers