Yogurt- The True Fountain of Youth?

Yogurt  is arguably the oldest   health food.  The Egyptians  called  yogurt and honey the foods of the gods while Abraham was said to owe his long life to his regular diet of yogurt.  At the turn of the century, the Noble prize winning scientist Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff  suggested that  it was the special bacteria in yogurt that  was  behind the long  and healthy lives of yogurt loving  Bulgarian  peasants.

While it sounds  like a  plot  point of a 19th century novel,  yogurt  can actually be  a genuinely healthy food.   It is super rich in protein, calcium and a host of B vitamins.  Many people who are lactose intolorant can  eat yogurt without problems, since the lactose is concerted into lactic acid  by the same bacteria which convert milk into yogurt.  These bacteria, known as lactobaccillus  are also said to improve digestive health. 

Modern  yogurt  production has taken to adding super strong bacteria that can survive the  digestive process.  Called probiotics, they  are kind of like the opposite of antibiotics which kill bacteria.  These beneficial bacteria  are said to relieve constipation, allergies, stomach ulcers and irritable bowel disease– but the reseach backing these claims   may be considered a bit thin.

Not All Yogurts are Equal

Researching  this topic  I actually counted over 150 different types of yogurt  at the   Fairway market.    To narrow down  the options to the best choices,  look for fat-free, plain  yogurt with “live active cultures”.  This means that they contain the  right type  and quantity of bacteria  which deliever  the digestive health benefits.  Many yogurts are so processed and  high in sugar that you might as well be eating  chocolate  pudding. Plain unsweetend  yogurt  has five grams of  protein  and just 60 calories– about equal to the nutrient pay load of an egg without the cholesterol. 

WHile  many healthy foods like flaxseed or cranberries  have limited useage, yogurt is so versatile   its ridonkulous.  It was  be used  as a beverage,  dip , topping, folded into baked goods or stirred into a sauce.  Anywhere you use sour cream ( hello Paula Deen) yogurt  can be a  low fat high protein alternative.  My current favorite yogurt is now Greek style yogurt.  Even the fat-free versions are  rich, creamy and utterly satisfying.   

 And  be sure to save a few teaspoons  of your yogurt for an instant  face mask. Plain  yogurt is rich in lactic acid, that amazing  alpha hydroxy acid which can encourage cell turnover and collagen growth.   Just dab it on  during breakfast and rinse off 10 minutes later in the shower.  It will make your skin  softer with  a pink glow.  Seriously.

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