More than 90% of British households purchased yoghurt last year, with the average individual consuming it three times a week. Tempting us with an ever-growing array of product options, flavours and textures, yoghurt is not only tastily satisfying, but fast becoming a dairy force to be reckoned with.
Made by fermenting milk with harmless bacteria, the health benefits of yoghurt have long been recognised. History suggests it was first consumed back in 6,000BC when ancient herdsmen accidentally discovered the effect natural enzymes had on animal milk. An introduction to the mass market was eventually to come early in the 1900s with its popularity really soaring in the 1950s and 60s thanks to the rise of the health food culture. The popularity continues and today we’re eating a whopping 430% more than we were in the 1970s.
So, is this popular food actually good for us? It may come as a surprise, but one 150ml pot of low fat fruit yoghurt is a veritable powerhouse of goodness. The single serving comprises 26% of our recommended daily intake of calcium and phosphorous, 23% of our vitamin B2, 18% of B12, 15% of potassium, 16% of B1, 13% of our protein and a whopping 48% of our daily iodine needs, contributing to healthy blood pressure, bones, skin, teeth, muscles, nerve and heart function, while boosting our overall energy levels. The bacterial cultures in yoghurt have also been shown to help fight infection and boost the immune and digestive systems.
There has been much research over the years into other derived benefits. One US study of more than 100,000 people has suggested eating yoghurt daily can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 18%, while academic researchers in Spain suggested that eating full-fat yoghurt every day can actually help reduce the risk of obesity by almost a fifth.
For some time there has been a buzz around the health-promoting properties of probiotics, the `good bacteria’ live microorganisms found in some (not all) yoghurt products. Labels clearly display these ingredients to help shoppers understand the various benefits of the different types of bacteria. What’s clear is that, with or without probiotics, all yoghurts, eaten regularly, can play an important part in achieving and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
In its quest to improve the nation’s lunchbox and picnic choices, the NHS Change4Life health promotion campaign lists both fruit and natural yoghurt as a tasty, healthy breakfast, dessert, snack and `on the go’ food. Yoghurt is incredibly versatile and easy to eat; on its own, in cooking or as the perfect addition to any shake or smoothie – a real fridge friend. What’s not to love!