Yogurt is fermented milk and contains many of the good qualities of milk. Originated in eastern Europe, yogurt is eaten by people around the world today. Apart from its good taste, yogurt has therapeutic powers that provide many health benefits.
Yogurt is loaded with healthy nutrients. It is a rich source of calcium, and yogurt with live active cultures aids the body’s absorption of calcium.
Also, yogurt contains protein that is easy to digest. Other valuable nutrients in yogurt are riboflavin, B vitamins, folic acid, lactic acid, potassium, phosphorous, iodine and zinc.
The health benefits of yogurt are so impressive that many health-conscious people eat it daily. Of all the types of yogurt in the market today, the healthiest choice is yogurt with live active cultures (good bacteria). This type of yogurt is usually labeled as ‘probiotic yogurt’.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of yogurt.
1. Aids Digestion
Yogurt is an easily digestible food. In addition, the good bacteria or probiotics present in some types of yogurt help with digestion of other foods and promote regularity. Also, yogurt is highly recommended for those suffering from different gastrointestinal conditions like constipation, diarrhea and stomach aches.
Eat one cup of low-fat yogurt with live cultures daily to soothe your tummy and keep your digestive tract running smoothly.
2. Boosts Immune System
According to several studies, people who eat two cups of yogurt daily with live cultures for three months have higher levels of immunity boosting cells compared to those who do not eat yogurt.
The good bacteria in yogurt strengthen the intestine, help the body absorb nutrients properly and make the digestive system strong. All these factors in turn boost the immune system.
To boost your immune system, eat yogurt with active cultures daily.
3. Helps Weight Loss
Yogurt can help you lose weight at a faster speed. The good bacteria in probiotic yogurt help improve metabolism and digestion, and keep you feeling full longer.
Plus, the high amount of calcium in yogurt signals your fat cells to pump out less cortisol, making it easier for you to lose weight. Also, the amino acids in yogurt help burn fat.
To lose weight, avoid junk foods and start eating yogurt with berries instead.
4. Treats Vaginal Yeast Infections
Women who have diabetes are more likely to get yeast or candida overgrowth in the vagina. Yogurt is a rich probiotic food containing Lactobacillus acidophilus that helps kill yeast. Also, it helps balance the pH inside the vagina and thus reduces the risk of yeast infections.
Eating six ounces of unsweetened yogurt daily will reduce the risk of vaginal yeast infections to a great extent. If you have a vaginal yeast infection, dip a tampon in plain yogurt and insert it in the vagina for two hours daily for several weeks.
5. Prevents High Blood Pressure
Eating too much salt is one of the key reasons behind high blood pressure. The potassium present in yogurt helps absorb and flush out sodium from the body.
According to a study presented at the High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, people who ate non-fat yogurt on a daily basis were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to others.
Eat at least one cup of low-fat yogurt every other day to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
6. Lowers Cholesterol
Yogurt with live active cultures can be very effective for lowering your cholesterol level. The live active cultures decrease cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Plus, thew probiotics also binds bile acids, which in turn helps lower cholesterol.
It can be particularly helpful for reducing the chance of cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Dairy Science found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate 10.6 ounces of yogurt containing live active cultures each day had a greater decline in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels compared to those who ate other types of yogurt.
Those who have high cholesterol must eat two cups of yogurt with live active cultures daily. Other types of yogurt are less effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
7. Prevents Colon Cancer
Yogurt is great for keeping your colon healthy. Lactobacillus bacteria are a kind of intestine-friendly bacteria present in yogurt that promote growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and thus reduces the risk of colon diseases.
These good bacteria kill the harmful microorganisms in the colon before they become carcinogenic. Plus, the high calcium content in the yogurt binds cancer-producing bile acids and keeps them away from the colon walls.
To keep your colon healthy, eat yogurt on an empty stomach in the morning. Avoid eating yogurt with dinner.
8. Supports Oral Health
Yogurt can also improve your oral health. Low-fat yogurt, whether sweetened or not, will protect against cavities, one of the leading gum problems. This is mainly due to the lactic acid in yogurt that protects your teeth as well as gums.
Plus, yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein, two important nutrients that promote oral health. Experts also believe that the good bacteria in yogurt help control the growth of “unfriendly” bacteria in the mouth that can cause bad breath.
Just two ounces of yogurt per day can lower your risk of periodontal disease and also satisfy your sweet tooth.
9. Prevents Osteoporosis
The calcium, vitamin D and live active cultures in yogurt strengthen bones and increase bone density. This in turn prevents osteoporosis, a progressive disease in which the bones gradually become weak and vulnerable to fractures.
To help make your bones strong, always look for yogurt that has the most vitamin D. Just look at the label on the back of the product to help you to buy the best one.
10. Makes Hair Healthy
If you have yogurt, there is no need for pricy treatments promising healthy and shiny hair. Yogurt is a rich source of zinc, lactic acid, protein, calcium, and other nutrients that are good for your hair.
Yogurt promotes hair growth, reduces dandruff and relieves scalp itchiness. Plus, yogurt acts as a great natural conditioner for dry and damaged hair and helps gain and retain moisture.
Blend one-half cup of plain yogurt, apply it on your hair, leave it on for 30 minutes, and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Use this hair treatment once a week to enjoy healthy and strong hair.
By eating yogurt daily, you can give your body a nourishing treat and help prevent many health problems.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Erica Mouch, CD (RDN)
Is it beneficial to eat yogurt every day? Can it cause any side-effects?
Yogurt (dairy-based) is a great source of calcium, can be a great protein source and usually has probiotics, which can support a healthy microbiome. No current studies that I’m aware of show any side effects.
Like most other foods, it is best to provide our bodies a good mix and variety of nutrients. If you enjoy yogurt and want to eat it every day, then you can surely do it!
Can yogurt be consumed on an empty stomach?
Yes, yogurt can be consumed on an empty stomach.
Is eating yogurt at night bad for health?
No research I’m aware of shows any negative effects of eating yogurt at night.
It is said yogurt should not be taken with milk. Is it true?
No, I don’t believe this is true. I did not find any studies examining this.
Is Greek yogurt healthier than regular yogurt?
Greek yogurt tends to have more protein than the traditional yogurts, although Icelandic style also has higher protein levels. It isn’t necessarily healthier, just provides more protein.
Is it ok to feed yogurt to babies?
Most babies can start eating yogurt when they start eating solid foods. If there is any concern for food allergies, I recommend a parent speak with their baby’s pediatrician.
Can yogurt help treat yeast infections?
Potentially. Yogurt can offer mild relief to some women, although over-the-counter medications may be a more reliable method. One strain of bacteria in yogurt, lactobacilli, supports an acidic environment, which makes it challenging for yeast to thrive.
Choose an unflavored yogurt with live cultures if this is your preferred method. It is impossible to know if yogurt will have the same bacteria as your vaginal environment, so choosing live cultures yogurt will be more supportive.
Flavored yogurts often have more sugar and may have the opposite effect – sugar supports yeast growth.
Please suggest some important points to remember when including yogurt in our daily diet.
Yogurt can be a part of your regular diet as a complement for meals or snacks. If you like the flavor, it does have beneficial bacteria, protein, and calcium, all of which support health.
Yogurt can be a great addition to most meals to add additional nutrition. Try it on the side with lentils, rice, and greens for a tasty lunch!
About Ms. Erica Mouch, CD, RDN: Ms. Mouch is a registered dietitian and food therapist at Erica Mouch Nutrition. She practices health from an every size perspective and fully believes that delicious food is at the center of a life well-lived. By employing a whole-person approach, she emphasizes on personalized nutrition, self-care, and joyful movement to help people achieve their healthy self.
Erica has been a registered dietitian for six years and has worked at a Concierge Health and Wellness practice that tested genetics, microbiome, saliva, and blood lab markers and has also worked in a hospital and outpatient settings.