Is Yogurt Good For You?

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yogurt a day may not mean fewer doctor visits, but there are plenty of health reasons to make this dairy food a regular in your diet.

The May issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource covers the benefits:

– One 8-ounce cup of plain low-fat yogurt provides around 400 milligrams (mg) of calcium, more than the 300 mg in an 8-ounce glass of milk.

– Yogurt also has as much potassium as a banana and as much protein as an egg or ounce of meat.

– The live bacteria in yogurt help in digestion and protect you against other harmful bacteria.

In fact, some of yogurt’s health reputation relies on presence of live bacteria. To make yogurt, warm milk is fermented or cultured with two types of bacteria — Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Although many bacteria can make you sick, these bacteria are beneficial. They can help break down the lactose (sugar naturally occurring in milk), making yogurt more digestible than milk for people with lactose intolerance.

Some yogurt makers heat the yogurt after it’s cultured to increase the shelf life or reduce tartness, but kill the bacteria in the process. When shopping, look for the official National Yogurt Association’s seal on the container that says “Live and Active Cultures.” Another shopping tip: choose a brand that’s low in calories and fat with as few additives as possible.

Yogurt, in its many forms, is great for snacks, lunch boxes and on the go. Whether you take your yogurt with a spoon, a straw or squeeze it from a tube, enjoy. It’s good for you.

Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic.

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