Yogurt is a versatile and delicious food enjoyed by people worldwide for centuries. It is a great source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, making it a healthy and nutritious snack or meal.
Not only does yogurt provide essential vitamins and minerals, but it also offers a variety of health benefits. From helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease to improving digestion and gut health, yogurt is a true superfood.
Studies have even shown that consuming yogurt regularly can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. With so many health benefits, it’s no wonder that yogurt remains a popular choice among health-conscious individuals.
What is Yogurt?
Yogurt can be derived from different types of milk, such as whole-fat and skim milk. When sourced from grass-fed goats or cows, its nutrition is maximized, supplying whey protein, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, probiotics, enzymes, potassium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2.
Yogurt can be made from sheep’s, cow’s, or goat’s milk and is produced by fermentation. It is believed that milk fermentation has been practiced for more than 6,000 years to preserve milk before the convenience of refrigerators arrived.
The live microorganisms in yogurt, also called good bacteria or probiotics, ferment the milk’s natural lactose or sugar. This produces lactic acid and causes milk proteins to curdle, providing yogurts its texture and distinctive taste.
Most people love yogurt for its creamy and rich indulgence. It is one of the world’s most consumed fermented dairy products, followed by kefir. Of course, there is more to it than just being a dessert or snack. Keep reading to discover the numerous health benefits of yogurt.
15 Proven Health Benefits of Yogurt on Your Body
1. Aids in Proper Digestion
Some types of yogurt contain probiotics or live bacteria added after pasteurization or part of the starter culture. When consumed, these may aid in proper digestion. However, many yogurts undergo the pasteurization process, a heat treatment that kills the harmful and beneficial bacteria they possess.
To ensure that your yogurt contains active probiotics, check the label and always look for products containing live, active cultures.
Some probiotics found in yogurts, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, have been shown to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, a common digestive problem that affects the colon. In one study, people with IBS who consumed fermented yogurt or milk that contained Bifidobacteria for three weeks reported having stool frequency and bloating.
2. Strengthens Immune System
In a study, researchers have found that good bacteria in fermented milk products like yogurt can enhance the gut mucosal immune system by encouraging cytokine-producing cells in the digestive tract. They also stated, “Supplementation of probiotic organisms in infancy could help prevent immune-mediated diseases in childhood.”
For those worrying about their immune health, yogurt is one of the best foods to incorporate into your diet. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that yogurt “could be an effective probiotic dietary supplement for enhancing some aspects of cellular immunity in the elderly.”
3. Helps Prevent Yeast Infections
Women who have diabetes are more likely to develop vaginal yeast infections. The vagina naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast, bacteria, and candida. The acid produced by lactobacillus bacteria prevents yeast overgrowth. But when the balance is disrupted due to antibiotic use, impaired immune system, diabetes, hormone therapy, or oral contraceptives, it can lead to a yeast infection.
The lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt helps destroy yeast by producing hydrogen peroxide. To prevent yeast infections, it is recommended to eat yogurt every day. Applying it directly to the affected area can help treat the disease.
4. Improves Bone Health
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, vitamin D and calcium are the two essential nutrients for lowering your risk of osteoporosis. Not enough vitamin D and calcium increase the chance of getting a bone-weakening disease.
Yogurt contains a combination of vitamin D, calcium, and other essential nutrients that promote bone health, such as protein, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
Magnesium and calcium are essential for maintaining dental and bone health, making yogurt suitable for people suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Adequate consumption of calcium also reduces the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women.
5. Enhances Brain Function
According to a study from UCLA’s Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, the health of your gut affects your mood. Researchers found that people who consumed probiotics regularly showed less anxiety and more control over emotions when introduced to emotional or stressful situations.
Yogurt also contains over 600 milligrams of potassium per 8-ounce serving, which is essential for nerve health and balancing fluid in the body. Being rich in good bacteria, yogurt can enhance cognitive function and mood. It may also help with chronic pain and nervous disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autism.
Moreover, researchers noted that eating yogurt is ideal when taking antibiotics. Because antibiotics kill both harmful and good bacteria in the stomach, eating probiotics through yogurt would be beneficial.
6. May Benefit Heart Health
The fat content of yogurt is one of the reasons why its health benefits are often controversial. It has primarily saturated fat with only a small amount of monounsaturated fatty acids. It was believed that saturated fat causes heart disease, but new studies show this is not the case. Nevertheless, low-fat and fat-free varieties of yogurt are still in demand in the United States.
There’s no clear evidence that yogurt’s fat content harms your heart. Studies show that it may even benefit heart health.
Some research also reveals that consuming saturated fat from whole-milk products like yogurt increases good cholesterol, which may protect cardiovascular health. In another study, it was found that yogurt consumption reduces the overall incidence of heart disease.
7. Helps Treat Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma occurs when the airways become narrow and inflamed, making breathing difficult. This condition causes shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, and wheezing episodes. Dairy products have often been suggested as one of the common asthma triggers, but no scientific evidence supports this theory.
People with asthma can develop their immunity by helping their digestive health. Yogurt has anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate the symptoms of asthma. The good bacteria in it also lower the risk of attacks in physically active suffers.
8. Prevents Hypertension
It is already mentioned that yogurt contains high potassium levels, a powerful mineral hailed by nutritionists and cardiologists as a blood pressure regulator. Potassium decreases sodium re-absorption and helps the body get rid of excess sodium. Sodium is the main culprit behind high blood pressure, leading to kidney problems and hypertension if not observed.
Potassium also encourages nervous system cell function, essential for preventing hypertension and improving heart health. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who eat at least three servings of yogurt per day have reduced risks of developing high blood pressure by 50 percent.
If you have high blood pressure, it may be best to incorporate yogurt into your diet.
9. Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 26 million people in the US have diabetes. If current lifestyles continue, one out of three adults in the United States will suffer from this condition by 2050.
A new study published in Diabetologia found that eating yogurt at least four times a week may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The diets of 4,000 people were observed for 11 years, and researchers found that those with the highest yogurt consumption had a lower risk of diabetes by 24 percent than others.
10. Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Many studies have observed the effect of yogurt consumption on cholesterol levels. In a 2013 study, it was found that people who eat yogurt regularly have a better metabolic profile than those who don’t. They had lower body mass index, blood pressure, levels of triglycerides, and waist circumference. Yogurt eaters also showed higher levels of HDL ‘good cholesterol.
Another study also showed that the probiotics in yogurt reduced key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood and lowered LDL’s bad cholesterol.
In addition to yogurt, other foods that can help regulate cholesterol levels are beans, oats, okra and eggplant, barley, whole grains, fatty fish, soy, and nuts.
11. Faster Workout Recovery
What you eat before and after workouts can make a difference in how you perform, move, and recover. After exercising, energy stores have to be replenished, and your muscles repair themselves. According to Mayo Clinic, the nutrient content in yogurt provides essential proteins and carbohydrates that the body can assimilate to fix muscles faster.
Remember that not all yogurts have healthful nutrients for faster workout recovery. It is best to select a low-sugar and fat yogurt with less than 250 calories per serving.
12. Reduces Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Also known as bowel cancer, rectal cancer, or colon cancer, colorectal cancer is any cancer that affects the rectum and the colon. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among women and the third for men. But with treatments and advances in screening techniques, the death rate from this condition has been dropping.
In a study that involved 45,000 individuals, eating yogurt was shown to protect people from colorectal cancer. Researchers stated, “the protective effect of yogurt was evident in the entire cohort.” This occurs due to a healthier digestive tract, thanks to the beneficial bacteria present in yogurt.
13. Increases Fat Loss and Promotes Weight Management
Yogurt contains many properties that may help you manage your weight. It is rich in protein that works with calcium to increase hormones that reduce your appetite. Studies have also found that yogurt consumption is associated with lower body fat percentage, body weight, and waist circumference.
According to researchers at the University of Knoxville, dietary calcium impacts your weight loss efforts. Foods rich in calcium have been shown to preserve metabolism while dieting and increase body fat breakdown. This mineral also helps the body stay young by building strong bones.
14. Nourishes hair
Yogurt has moisturizing properties that can help keep your hair strong and healthy. It controls hair fall, calms frizz, and helps repair damaged hair, leaving it manageable and soft. Yogurt also contains anti-fungal properties, making it an excellent remedy for dandruff. On top of that, it balances the pH levels of the scalp by regulating sebum production.
15. Helps Enhance Complexion
Those with a dry face can apply a yogurt face mask at least once a week to keep it well hydrated. Yogurt also helps the skin become radiant and supple, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The lactic acid it contains is an exfoliating agent, removing the topmost layer of dead skin cells to reveal more elastic and brighter skin.
With its zinc and lactic acid, yogurt may also help treat pimples and acne. Make sure to apply plain yogurt and not sweetened versions when treating your skin. In addition, you can also mix it with lemon juice to reduce the appearance of pigmentation and blemish left behind by acne.
Yogurt has strongly presented an argument as to why you should incorporate it into your diet. For best results, avoid sweetened yogurts, as these products have added colorants and sugars that mimic fruit flavors.
Excess sugar can be harmful to those suffering from obesity and diabetes. Therefore, read food labels and always opt for plain or yogurt derived from grass-fed cows. Add slices of fruit if you want to add some flavor.
While yogurt provides numerous health benefits, it may not be appropriate for everyone. People with lactose intolerance and milk allergy should avoid eating yogurt. Consuming dairy products in such conditions may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, hives, and other complications.