The Benefits of Yogurt

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Fermented Foods in Winter

In Ayurveda, a meal would not be complete without a dollop of curd or yogurt to balance a meal. Such ancient wisdom has gained new traction in the medical community.

Did you know that winter is the season for fermented foods? Historically, fermenting foods was a way to preserve foods like milk and veggies for a long, cold winter.

A meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health has linked one serving of yogurt each day to a 17-18% decreased risk of getting Type II Diabetes (T2D). (1)

Dr. Frank Hu, a Harvard researcher, pooled the results of three large studies that measured the diet and lifestyle of 289,000 health professionals. About 15,000 of them had T2D. While low-fat or full-fat dairy had no measurable effect on T2D risk, yogurt did. One serving of yogurt a day decreased the risk of T2D by 17%.

Dr. Hu then pooled these results with other published studies in another meta-analysis that evaluated nearly 460,000 subjects. The results were consistent. While dairy products had no effect on T2D risk, one serving of yogurt a day decreased T2D risk by 18%.

Dr. Hu is quick to point out that yogurt is by no means a cure for T2D, but it does play a role in a healthy diet and maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. The researchers suspect that the benefits they revealed could be due to the beneficial bacteria that exist in yogurt.

What to Look for in Yogurt

This study did not evaluate the kind of yogurt that was ingested. The most important factor when buying yogurt is the sugar content. Read the labels. Yogurts can range from 4 grams of sugar per serving to 28 grams of sugar per serving! Buy plain yogurt and, if you need to add sweetener, use a small amount of your own maple syrup or raw honey.

Winter Wisdom

Traditionally, cheese and yogurts were made to help preserve the dairy through the winter months. Little did they know, culturing milk made it much easier to digest as well – or did they? During the culturing process, the lactose (milk sugar) is converted to lactic acid, which is easily processed by the body and the hard-to-digest casein (milk protein) is predigested, making it also much easier to digest.

In Ayurveda, milk has a cooling effect on the body. When it is cultured into cheese, buttermilk or yogurt, the cooling effect of milk becomes warming. Yogurt and yogurt drinks, such as lassi (yogurt and water), are considered good for digestion due to their warming properties. This, of course, is especially appreciated in the winter when every bit of warmth helps.

References

  1. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/12/215

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