Yogurt is made by adding two bacterial cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, to pasteurized milk to give it a thicker, fermented form. All yogurts contain these cultures at the start; many are supplemented with additional probiotics for digestive and immune support.
But how do probiotics promote health? Your intestines are normally populated with a delicate balance of beneficial and not-so-beneficial bacteria. When the friendly bacteria shrink in numbers, your digestive system might not function at its best. An imbalance can occur for a variety of reasons, such as taking antibiotics. A daily dose of yogurt can help replenish helpful bacteria, relieving digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Beyond the probiotic factor, yogurt boasts impressive nutritional benefits: it's loaded with calcium, protein, and vitamins. The target number for calcium is 1,200 milligrams per day, and an average 8-ounce serving of yogurt provides 300 milligrams.
Choose It & Use It
Instead of presweetened yogurt, choose low-fat or skim plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself: add a teaspoon or two of 100 percent fruit spread, a little maple syrup or honey, or some fresh or dried fruit.