So, you’ve just completed your afternoon jog, and you’ve decided to stop by the store on your way home to pick up some healthy snacks. Yogurt: the perfect choice! It’s delicious, and after all, it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat, right?
Not so fast. While real yogurt does indeed boast an array of important health benefits, a lot of the stuff on the shelves can actually be detrimental. When eating for optimal health, it’s crucial to know the difference.
When I say “real” yogurt, I am talking about organic, grass-fed yogurt with live cultures. This yogurt is the good stuff. It should only have two ingredients on the label: organic milk, and live yogurt cultures. That’s it.
Real yogurt is brimming with nutrients. It’s a good source of protein, and contains vitamins B2, B12, and pantothenic acid. It’s also brimming with iodine (important for thyroid health), biotin, calcium, molybdenum, phosphorus, and zinc.
All of these nutrients combined can boost your vitamin and mineral quotient for the day, and help you to feel full, thanks to the protein content.
Perhaps most importantly, real yogurt is a great food for gut health. Your gut is home to both beneficial bacteria, and harmful bacteria, and when the harmful overtake the beneficial, illness can occur. For this reason, the health of the gut is intrinsically linked to the health of the body’s entire immune system. Keeping your gut in tip-top shape is key.
Those live cultures in real yogurt provide probiotic benefits to your gut. Probiotics serve to feed beneficial gut bacteria, encouraging the health of the gut. Making probiotic foods such as real yogurt part of your daily menu can do a lot for boosting your overall health, and preventing many chronic conditions.
So, what’s wrong with those other yogurts you see on store shelves? Quite a lot, unfortunately. First of all, those that are not made with organic milk are likely made from the milk of cows that have been fed GMO diets and pumped full of artificial growth hormones. Needless to say, you probably don’t want these in your body.
Second, many yogurt brands are full of sugar, or worse, high fructose corn syrup. Sugar is a health disaster, and a trigger for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and more. High fructose corn syrup is a processed form of sugar, which sends fructose directly to your liver, where it may lead to complications. Not a healthy choice.
The fruits found in many yogurts are usually drenched in a sugary syrup, and some contain “natural flavors,” which can virtually be any highly processed form of a once-natural ingredient. Many yogurts also contain starches (likely GMO corn), and emulsifiers, along with other added ingredients.
Third, and perhaps worst, with many yogurt brands, you may not be getting the probiotic benefits you’re hoping for. Many yogurt labels will say “made with live cultures,” but this is a tricky term, as the cultures may no longer be alive. This negates their benefits. If it doesn’t say “live cultures,” it’s likely the probiotic benefits are nil.
The point? Go for the yogurt, but make sure it’s the real thing! Organic, grass-fed yogurt is a great probiotic addition to your day — but avoid the impostors, they’re not healthy! If you like a bit of sweetness and fruit in your yogurt, add your own!
A teaspoon of raw honey and some organic berries (or any sliced organic fruit of your choice), can make an ordinary bowl of yogurt into a delicious treat. For even more protein, and important amino acids, add a tablespoon of chia seeds, and enjoy!