Greek yogurt is believed by many to be a health food, but does Greek yogurt have probiotics?
Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that, when consumed, help balance out the bacterial flora in your intestines, or gut. By controlling harmful bacteria overgrowth, probiotics can help improve digestion, increase absorption of nutrients from food, and boost the immune system.
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Greek yogurt is different from traditional yogurt in that it has been strained repeatedly to remove most of the whey, says Everyday Health. Greek yogurt
is creamier as a result, and while it contains less calcium than traditional yogurt, it often has a much higher protein content.
According to the Obesity Action Coalition, yogurt
is the No. 1 source of natural probiotics in the American diet. The Coalition recommends consuming at least one serving of probiotic-rich food every day to reap the benefits.
Not all yogurts are created equal, however, when it comes to probiotic quantity and quality.
“Yogurt can turn into junk food really quickly,” Caroline Kaufman RDN, a San Francisco-based nutrition expert, tells The Huffington Post
. She recommends checking the ingredient list first. Besides milk and live bacterial cultures, the source of probiotics in Greek yogurt, nothing else should be listed. Steer clear of products containing added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and sugar-laden toppings.
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The National Yogurt Association has created an official “live and active cultures” seal for Greek yogurt that contains significant amounts of L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilis, the two cultures that federal regulations require in order for a food to be marketed as yogurt. However, not all brands will carry the seal, so check the ingredients list to see if these cultures are present. You may also see other strains of probiotics listed as well.
If you are using Greek yogurt in a cooked dish and wish to keep the probiotics active, it is important not to overheat the yogurt, cautions Livestrong
. Gradually warm the yogurt by adding some of the hot food or liquid to it slowly and then add the gently heated yogurt into the finished dish at the end. Cooking the yogurt quickly and to a high temperature will kill off any beneficial probiotics.
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