Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Enter The Yogurt...
Not only is yogurt a wonderful quick, easy and nutritious snack that is available year-round, but researchers are finding evidence that milk and yogurt may actually add years to your life as is found in some countries where yogurt and other fermented dairy products (like kefir) are a dietary staple.
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk, which causes the transformation of the milk's sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yogurt its refreshingly tart flavor and unique pudding-like texture, a quality that is reflected in its original Turkish name, Yoghurmak, which means "to thicken."
As a general rule, we favor low-fat dairy products rather than products made from whole milk although we understand that there are individuals for whom whole milk dairy products may appropriate. For a detailed report on this topic, please read our report on the subject.
Our food ranking system qualified yogurt as a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2 and iodine. Yogurt also emerged from our analysis as a good source of vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum. These 10 nutrients alone would make yogurt a health-supportive food. But some of the most interesting health information about yogurt comes from a different context-its potential inclusion of live bacteria.
Yogurt for A Longer Life
The highest quality yogurt in your grocery store contains live bacteria that provides a host of health benefits. Yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures may help you to live longer, and may fortify your immune system. Research studies have shown that increased yogurt consumption, particularly in immunocompromised populations such as the elderly, may enhance the immune response, which would in turn increase resistance to immune-related diseases.
One research study tracked a population of 162 very elderly people for five years. The incidence of death for those subjects who ate yogurt and milk more than three times per week was 38% lower than the incidence of death those subjects who ate yogurt and other dairy foods less than once a week. (Consuming citrus fruit twice a week and a lowered consumption of meat were also associated with decreased incidence of death).
Eating yogurt may help to prevent vaginal yeast infections. In one study, women who had frequent yeast infections ate 8 ounces of yogurt daily for 6 months. Researchers reported that a threefold decrease in infections was seen in these women.
Yogurt Boosts Immune Response
Lactobacillus casei, a strain of friendly bacteria found in cultured foods like yogurt and kefir, significantly improved the immune response and ability to fight off pneumonia in an animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
After their 21-day protein-free diet, laboratory animals were fed a balanced conventional diet with or without supplemental lactobacillus casei for 7, 14 or 21 days, then challenged with S. pneumoniae. In all groups of animals given lactobacillus casei, normalization of the immune response and recovery occurred much more quickly than in controls, who received only the balanced conventional diet. Controls took 21 days to regain a normal immune response, but test animals fed the friendly bacteria recovered normal immunity in just 7 days! In addition, malnourished mice receiving lactobacillus casei were able to more effectively clear the pneumonia pathogen from their blood and had significantly less lung damage than controls.
A human study has confirmed that a daily serving of probiotic-rich yogurt bolsters your body's ability to protect you from infection.
Daily consumption of yogurt- both conventional, commercially available yogurt and probiotic yogurt (yogurt containing health-promoting bacteria)-stimulated cellular immunity in a study involving 33 healthy women aged 22-29 years.
Cellular immunity-our immune system's first line of defense-involves special white cells (typically T cell lymphocytes and neutrophils), which serve as our body's primary means of protection against infection by viruses, yeasts, and parasites. In addition, cellular immunity is also critical in preventing the development of cancer.
In this study, (Meyer AL, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism), the women were divided into two groups. For the first 2 weeks, they consumed either 3 ounces (100 g) each day of a conventional yogurt or 3 ounces daily of a yogurt containing added probiotics (health-promoting bacteria).
For the following 2 weeks, the women consumed 6 ounces (200 g) daily of either the conventional or the probiotic yogurt. This was followed by a 2 week washout period in which no yogurt or other fermented foods were consumed.
Study participants' white blood cells were checked both at the beginning of the study and after each phase. Results found a significant (30.8 to 32.7%) increase in the numbers of T lymphocytes among women consuming the probiotic yogurt, and a significant increase in the expression of CD69 on T lymphocytes among subjects consuming both probiotic and conventional yogurts. (CD69 is one of the first cell surface molecules expressed on lymphocytes after they are called into action. Once expressed, CD69 promotes the production and activation of more lymphocytes. So, the increase in CD69 indicates an increase in immune system defense capability.)
In addition, not only did the ability of immune cells to effectively kill pathogens increased following intake of the yogurt, but this effect persisted in the washout period after the women had stopped their daily yogurt consumption. These results suggest that enjoying a daily cup of yogurt-either conventional or probiotic-may boost immune function.
Yogurt Lowers LDL, Raises HDL Cholesterol
Daily consumption of 3 ounces (100 g) of probiotic yogurt (yogurt containing health-promoting bacteria) significantly improved the cholesterol profile, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol, in women volunteers.
In this study, (Fabian E, Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism), one group of 17 women consumed 3 ounces (100 g) a day of probiotic yogurt, while a second group of 16 women were given 3 ounces of conventional yogurt daily for 2 weeks. Then both groups were given 6 ounces (200 g) of the type of yogurt they had been consuming for 2 more weeks. The study ended with a final 2 weeks during which both groups of women ate no yogurt.
In the women consuming probiotic yogurt, not only did levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol decrease significantly, but their HDL (good) cholesterol substantially increased. Women consuming conventional yogurt also experienced a significant drop in LDL cholesterol, although their HDL did not rise.
The take-home message: adding a daily cup of yogurt-preferably a yogurt with probiotic bacteria-to your healthy way of eating is an easy and delicious way to improve your cholesterol profile.
Here are just a few ways to enjoy yogurt:
Top your daily cup of yogurt with a quarter-cup of granola, a handful of nuts, and some frozen berries or dried fruit for a quick, delicious and sustaining breakfast.
Creamy yogurt, chives, and freshly ground sea salt and pepper make a great topping for baked potatoes, yams or other cooked vegetables.
For a creamy salad dressing or vegetable dip, just mix a cup of yogurt with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices.
Lower Body Fat Linked to Consumption of Calcium-Rich Foods
A prospective study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association gives parents yet another reason to consider regularly including low-fat dairy products such as yogurt in their children's healthy way of eating, given the rate at which childhood obesity is rising in the West: consumption of calcium-rich foods was found to be negatively correlated with body fat.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., with the number of overweight children more than doubling in the last three decades, and the International Obesity Task Force recently reported that in the UK, childhood obesity is already three times higher than it was just over 10 years ago.
In this prospective longitudinal study, researchers at the University of Tennessee assessed the height, weight and dietary intake of 52 children (girls and boys), starting when the children were 2 months of age and following them for 8 years. Dietary calcium and polyunsaturated fat intake were negatively related to percent of body fat, while total dietary fat or saturated fat intake and amount of sedentary activity (hours/day) were positively correlated.
Earlier studies have also reported a negative association between calcium intake and body fat accumulation during childhood and between calcium intake and body weight at midlife. Each 300 mg increment in regular calcium intake has been consistently associated with approximately 1 kg less body fat in children and 2.5-3.0 kg lower body weight in adults. Taken together these data suggest that increasing calcium intake by the equivalent of two dairy servings per day could reduce the risk of overweight substantially, perhaps by as much as 70 percent. The current study's lead author, Dr. Jean Skinner, advised that children should be encouraged to regularly eat calcium-rich foods, such as low fat milk and yoghurt and to increase physical activity. In addition, Dr. Skinner recommended that carbonated soft drinks and other nutrient-poor beverages be restricted since children's intake of carbonated beverages and other sweetened drinks was found to be negatively related to their calcium intake.
Another study published in Obesity Research suggests that calcium's weight loss benefits extend to adults as well. If you're tyring to lose weight, especially around the midsection, eating more calcium-rich foods, especially low fat dairy foods such as cow's milk, yogurt and kefir, may really help.
In this study, 41 obese subjects, 32 of whom completed the study, were divided into three groups and put on diets designed to result in the loss of one pound per week for 24 weeks. All diets contained the same number of calories and were designed to provide subjects with a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day.
The first group received a low (430 mg/day) calcium diet. The second group got the same diet with enough supplemental calcium to bring their daily intake up to 1200 mg. And the third group ate a diet with enough dairy foods to provide about 1100 mg calcium each day. At the conclusion of the study, the low calcium group had lost almost 15 pounds, the high calcium group 19 pounds, and the high dairy foods group 24 pounds. Plus, fat lost from the midsection represented an average of 19% of total fat loss in those on the low calcium diet, 50% of the fat lost in those on the high calcium diet, and 66% of the fat lost in those getting their calcium from dairy foods.
Yogurt, Specifically, Significantly Increases Fat Loss
In just 3 months, 16 obese men and women on a reduced calorie diet that included three daily portions of yogurt lost 61% more fat and 81% more abdominal fat than 18 obese subjects assigned to a diet with the same number of calories but little or no dairy products and low amounts of calcium.
Not only did those in the yogurt group lose more fat, especially around their waistlines, but they also retained more lean, muscle tissue than subjects on the yoghurt-free diet.
How yogurt promotes fat loss while preserving muscle is still a matter of debate. It may be due to the fact that calcium reduces fat cells' ability to store fat, so cells burn more, and less is produced in the liver. Or, it may be due to the branched chain amino acids present in dairy products. Regardless, this study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, indicates that adding one or two servings of yogurt to your daily diet can help you maximize loss of fat and minimize loss of muscle-the optimal outcome for any diet.
Calcium-rich Dairy Foods Boost the Body's Fat Burning After a Meal
Yet another study suggests those ads linking a daily cup of yogurt to a slimmer silhouette have a real basis in scientific fact. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition not only confirms earlier studies showing a calcium-rich diet is associated with fat loss, but may help explain why.
Normal-weight women ranging in age from 18-30 years were randomly assigned to a low (less than 800 mg per day) or high (1000-1400 mg per day) calcium diet for 1 year, and the rate at which their bodies burned fat after a meal was assessed at the beginning and end of the study.
After 1 year, fat oxidation (burning) was 20 times higher in women eating the high calcium diet compared to those in the low-calcium control group (0.10 vs. 0.06 gram per minute).
The women's blood levels of parathyroid hormone were also checked and were found to correlate with their rate of fat oxidation. (The primary function of parathyroid hormone is to maintain normal levels of calcium in the body. When calcium levels drop too low, parathyroid hormone is secreted to instruct bone cells to release calcium into the bloodstream.)
Higher blood levels of parathyroid hormone were associated with a lower rate of fat oxidation and lower dietary calcium intake, while lower blood levels of parathyroid hormone levels were seen in the women consuming a diet high in calcium, who were burning fat more rapidly after a meal. So, it appears that a high-calcium diet increases fat oxidation, at least in part, by lessening the need for parathyroid hormone secretion, thus keeping blood levels of the hormone low.
Boost the Body's Ability to Build Bone
It's not just its calcium that makes yogurt a bone-friendly food, cow's milk and fermented milk products such as yogurt and kefir also contain lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein that boosts the growth and activity of osteoblasts (the cells that build bone).
Not only does lactoferrin increase osteoblast differentiation, it also reduces the rate at which these cells die by up to 50-70%, and decreases the formation of osteoclasts (the cells responsible for breaking down bone) thus helping to prevent or reverse osteoporosis. In addition, lactoferrin also increases the proliferation of chondocytes, the cells that build cartilage. For building bone, enjoying both milk and yogurt seems a good idea since lactoferrin's effects were found to be dose-dependent, stimulating an up to a 5-fold increase in osteoblasts at higher doses.
Dairy Foods Better than Calcium Supplements for Growing Girls' Bones
For young girls going through the rapid growth spurts of puberty, getting calcium from dairy products, such as yogurt, may be better for building bone than taking a calcium supplement, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Finnish researchers enrolled 195 healthy girls aged 10-12 years and divided them into 4 groups. One group was given supplemental calcium (1000 mg) + vitamin D3 (200 IU) each day. The second group received only supplemental calcium (1000 mg/day). The third group ate cheese supplying 1,000 mg of calcium each day, and the fourth group was given a placebo supplement.
At the beginning and end of the study, DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans were run to check bone indexes of the hip, spine, and whole body, and the radius and tibia were checked by peripheral quantitative computed tomography.
At the conclusion of the study, girls getting their calcium from cheese had higher whole-body bone mineral density and cortical thickness of the tibia than girls given supplemental calcium + vitamin D, supplemental calcium alone, or placebo. While the researchers noted that differences in the rate at which different children naturally grow might account for some of the differences seen in bone mineral density, they concluded: "Increasing calcium intake by consuming cheese appears to be more beneficial for cortical bone mass accrual than the consumption of tablets containing a similar amount of calcium."
Help Prevent and Heal Arthritis
Lactobacillus, a probiotic (friendly) bacteria found in yogurt offers "remarkable preventive and curative" effects on arthritis, say Israeli researchers in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Because lactobacillus has already demonstrated beneficial effects in other inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disorders, researchers thought it might also lessen the inflammation of arthritis. To find out, they ran two groups of animal experiments.
In both sets of experiments, laboratory animals fed the yogurt with large amounts of lactobacilli had the least amount of arthritic inflammation, while those fed plain yogurt experienced only moderate inflammation. The animals that received just lactobacillus, even heat-killed lactobacillus, also showed significant benefit. Milk, however, had no effect. So impressed were the researchers with the study's results that they recommended trials using commercial yogurts containing lactobacilli in arthritic patients.
Protection against Ulcers
Helicobater pylori the bacterium responsible for most ulcers, can be shut down by yogurt, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this study, for six weeks, 48 adult volunteers infected with H. pylori ate yogurt containing the probiotic bacteria Lactobaciullus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis twice daily after a meal, while 11 others received a milk placebo. After eight weeks, subjects were given the C-urea breath test, which measures the amount of urease, an enzyme used by H.pylori to allow it to penetrate and infect the stomach lining. In those receiving the yogurt containing probiotics, H.pylori activity was effectively suppressed.
Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Although we've focused on the benefits of low-fat yogurt, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that enjoying full-fat yogurt and other full-fat dairy foods, such as whole milk, kefir, cheese, cream, sour cream and butter, may significantly reduce risk for colorectal cancer.
Although high in saturated fat, these dairy foods contain a number of potentially cancer-preventive factors, including a protective fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has also been shown to be cardioprotective.
In this study, over 60,000 women aged 40-76 years were followed during an average of 14.8 years. Those women who ate at least 4 servings of high-fat dairy foods each day were found to have a 41% lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to women eating less than a serving of high-fat dairy foods daily.
For each increment of 2 servings of high-fat dairy foods a woman consumed each day, her risk of colorectal cancer dropped 13%. So, while research continues to indicate that it is wise to limit your intake of saturated fat by cutting back on servings of high-fat meats, enjoying full-fat versions of yogurt and other dairy products may actually be protective.
For Fresh Breath and a Healthy Mouth, Eat Yogurt
Consuming just 3.2 ounces (90 grams) of yogurt twice a day not only lowers levels of hydrogen sulfide and other volatile sulfide compounds responsible for bad breath, but may also eliminate tongue-coating bacteria and reduce dental plaque formation, cavities, and risk for gingivitis. The sugar-free yogurt eaten by 24 volunteers in this 6-week study was fermented with two strains of probiotic (friendly) bacteria: streptococci and lactobacilli.
Be careful when selecting yogurt and choose yogurts that contain live cultures-highest quality prodcts will often indicate exactly how many live bacteria are contained in the product. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermopholis are the lactic acid bacteria usually used to make yogurt in the United States.
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk, which causes the transformation of the milk's sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yogurt its refreshingly tart flavor and unique pudding-like texture, a quality that is reflected in its original Turkish name, Yoghurmak, which means "to thicken". The lactic acid bacteria that are traditionally used to make yogurt-Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus-also confer on yogurt many of its health benefits.
Yogurt is available in a variety of different flavors, although plain yogurt is the simplest, most wholesome and versatile. Certain varieties of yogurts also feature a fruit mixture strewn throughout.
While it is unclear when and where yogurt was developed, fermented dairy products were probably consumed for thousands and thousands of years, ever since the beginning of the domestication of cows. One of the first records of yogurt consumption comes from the Middle East during the times of the Conqueror Genghis Khan in the 13th century, whose armies were sustained by this healthful food. Yogurt and other fermented dairy products have long been a staple in the diets of cultures of the Middle East, Asia, Russia and Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria. Yet, the recognition of yogurt's special health benefits did not become apparent in Western Europe and North America until the 20th century, as a result of research done by Dr. Elie Metchnikoff. Dr. Metchnikoff conducted research on the health benefits of lactic acid-producing bacteria and postulated that the longevity of peoples of certain cultures, such as the Bulgarians, was related to their high consumption of yogurt and fermented dairy products.
Today, yogurt plays an important role in many different world cuisines including Turkey, Greece, India, and countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia.
How to Select and Store
Some yogurt manufacturers pasteurize their yogurt products, while others do not. Although the aim of pasteurization is to kill any harmful bacteria, it also kills the beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the yogurt, substantially reducing its health benefits. Therefore, to fully enjoy the benefits of yogurt, look for those that feature "live active cultures" or "living yogurt cultures" on the label.
Check the expiration date on the side of the yogurt container to make sure that it is still fresh. Avoid yogurts that have artificial colors, flavorings or sweeteners. Additionally, while fruit-filled yogurt can be a delicious treat, be aware that oftentimes these yogurt products contain excess sugar.
Look for yogurt made from organic milk. It is becoming more widely available in an array of sizes, flavors and varieties.
Store yogurt in the refrigerator in its original container. If unopened, it will stay fresh for about one week past the expiration date.
How to Enjoy:
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Toss cubes of cooked eggplant with plain yogurt, chopped mint leaves, garlic and cayenne.
Add chopped cucumber and dill weed to plain yogurt. Eat this delicious and cooling salad as is or use as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or lamb.
Yogurt parfaits are a visual as well as delicious treat. In a large wine glass, alternate layers of yogurt and your favorite fruits.
Yogurt is a great base for salad dressings. Simply place plain yogurt in the blender with enough water to achieve your desired consistency. Add to this your favorite herbs and spices.
Mix cold cereal or granola with yogurt for a twist on the traditional cereal and milk breakfast.
Allergic Reactions to Cow's Milk Products
Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others. It's important to realize that the frequency of problems varies from country to country and can change significantly along with changes in the food supply or with other manufacturing practices. For example, in several part of the world, including Canada, Japan, and Israel, sesame seed allergy has risen to a level of major concern over the past 10 years.
In the United States, beginning in 2004 with the passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), food labels have been required to identify the presence of any major food allergens. Since 90% of food allergies in the U.S. have been associated with 8 food types as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it is these 8 food types that are considered to be major food allergens in the U.S. and require identification on food labels. The 8 food types classified as major allergens are as follows: (1) wheat, (2) cow's milk, (3) hen's eggs, (4) fish, (5) crustacean shellfish (including shrimp, prawns, lobster and crab); (6) tree nuts (including cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts); (7) peanuts; and (8) soy foods.
These foods do not need to be eaten in their pure, isolated form in order to trigger an adverse reaction. For example, yogurt made from cow's milk is also a common allergenic food, even though the cow's milk has been processed and fermented in order to make the yogurt. Ice cream made from cow's milk would be an equally good example.
Food allergy symptoms may sometimes be immediate and specific, and can include skin rash, hives, itching, and eczema; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; tingling in the mouth; wheezing or nasal congestion; trouble breathing; and dizziness or lightheadedness. But food allergy symptoms may also be much more general and delayed, and can include fatigue, depression, chronic headache, chronic bowel problems (such as diarrhea or constipation), and insomnia. Because most food allergy symptoms can be caused by a variety of other health problems, it is good practice to seek the help of a healthcare provider when evaluating the role of food allergies in your health.
Yogurt and rBGH
Cows may be treated with a compound called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Canada has banned the use of this hormone in cows, based on research from Canadian scientists. Their report on rBGH noted that cows injected with the growth hormone reportedly have a 25 percent increase in risk of mastitis, an 18 percent increase in the risk of infertility, and a 50 percent increase in the risk of lameness. Another independent Canadian scientific committee found there was no direct risk to human health. Several U.S. groups have opposed the use of the hormone. One concern is that cows with mastitis are treated with antibiotics. The best way to ensure that you buy milk that has not been treated with rBGH is to buy organic dairy products.
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System.
Nutrient Amount DV
Density World's Healthiest
iodine 87.22 mcg 58.1 6.8 very good
calcium 447.37 mg 44.7 5.2 very good
phosphorus 351.58 mg 35.2 4.1 very good
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.52 mg 30.6 3.6 very good
protein 12.86 g 25.7 3.0 good
vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 1.38 mcg 23.0 2.7 good
tryptophan 0.06 g 18.8 2.2 good
potassium 572.81 mg 16.4 1.9 good
molybdenum 11.27 mcg 15.0 1.7 good
zinc 2.18 mg 14.5 1.7 good
vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 1.45 mg 14.5 1.7 good
Foods Rating Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
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© 2001-2010 The George Mateljan Foundation
Recipes for Health
Yogurt: Not Just for Breakfast
By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
There has been considerable controversy this year over whether certain brands of bacteria-laden yogurt really help aid digestive health, but don’t let the hullabaloo sour you on yogurt. It’s a bona fide superfood, and live bacterial cultures are what make it unique.
If they survive the pasteurization process, you should find the bacteria -- usually Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria -- listed on the container among the ingredients, right after milk. Both types have long reputations as probiotics, bacteria that are beneficial to the intestinal tract and immune system. Beyond that, yogurt is a terrific source of protein and calcium. Many people who are otherwise lactose-intolerant can digest it.
Still, health isn’t the reason that yogurt is a staple of cuisines in the Caucasus, Balkans, Mediterranean and India. Yogurt is wonderful to cook with, much more than a breakfast food, and this week’s recipes will showcase a variety of dishes made with it.
Look for plain, minimally processed brands with no added gums, stabilizers or sweeteners. I prefer low-fat to nonfat, which can be watery and sour, and may contain fewer fat-soluble vitamins.
Drained of much of its water content, yogurt becomes a thick, creamy product known in the Middle East as labna or labne. Drained yogurt is like a moist, fresh, tangy cheese, and it makes a great spread or dip. In Turkey and in the Middle East, a number of dips and salad dressings are based on drained yogurt combined with pureed garlic and chopped fresh herbs. Drained yogurt can be mixed with chopped cucumbers for salads or with chopped dried apricots for a sweet and tangy dip.
2 cups low-fat yogurt
Line a strainer with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the strainer, and refrigerate for at least two hours (preferably four hours or longer). Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate again. Serve as a spread, dip, or topping for rice, or use as the base for a salad dressing.
Variations: Mix in any of the following:
1 to 2 plump garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed, and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar and pestle
1 to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh peppermint or dill (or other fresh herbs of your choice)
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 teaspoon or more ground toasted cumin seeds, curry powder or other spices
Yield: 1 cup
Advance preparation: Drained yogurt will last as long as the regular kind, so check the sell-by date on the container. The yogurt will continue to give up water, which you should simply pour away.
Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company
The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/health/nutrition/25recipehealth.html?_r=1