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Eat Smart - Know your Yogurt

March 18 2011

Eat Smart - Know your Yogurt
By Debra Meszaros of

Probiotics are an important component to nutrient absorption, assimulation and utilization of the nutrients you consume. They can help your body performance on the track. So including healthy foods in your diet is advantageous.Unfortaunately, the statement that a particular food is a "health" food, is not only a very general statement, but sometimes misleading. One must educate themselves about food labels and contents to be sure that you are indeed purchasing what you think you are. There are a few misused key marketing words that many manufacturers are using these days; "natural", "fat-free", "no transfats, "no antibiotics added", etc; what do they really mean? Anything?

Truth is our government has very few rules about verbage on labels and fact is, companies are misusing many of these marketing words. So it's not uncommon for these words to mean nothing at all sometimes. In respect to yogurt, here is some very helpful information.

Usually the primary reason one consumes Yogurt is for its naturally beneficial cultures, known as probiotics. For probiotics to be truly healthy they need to be in the form of "LAC", Live and active cultures. Make sure your yogurt has a SEAL that has the claim "live AND active cultures". The pasturizing process is a heat process that destroys most of the beneficial bacteria (cultures). Look for as many different cultures as possible as well.

Second key beneficial ingredient, fat. No that's not a typo, "fat". Although this is a matter of dietary choice, good dietary fats are neccessary for endurance, since long term energy and proper cognitive function relys on properly balanced quality fats. Full fat organic, grass-fed, dairy products have the proper balance of fats. For those that wish not to include fats, non-fat Greek yogurt would be the next best choice. Why Greek yogurt? Many yogurts offer very low quantities of protein except for Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt provides an average of 20 grams of protein per cup!

What about ingredients?

Ideally, you want nothing in your yogurt; no fruit, sugar, pectin, corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners. These are all empty calories. Adding some ingredients after you open it, like raw unfiltered honey, a few drops of vanilla extract, some fresh chopped fruit, or my top choice: raw, unsweetened coconut flakes, can make a big difference. The coconut flakes have good quality fat content for extra energy.

What ingredient can make a "healthy" food unhealthy? Sugar. Sugar content is a huge component in health and performance. Always check the label and serving size that dictates the measurement of sugar content. Avoid sugary yogurts, yogurts with 10 grams or more of sugar. Don't be fooled, watch the lower sugar content yogurt labels for artificial sweeteners or sweet additives; they are worse than regular sugar.

What is the overall best yogurt you can eat? Homemade. Yogurt making machines are inexpensive and make yogurt in 30 minutes. Then you'll know for sure what's in your yogurt.