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Yogurt nutrition facts

Yogurt is a popular dairy product prepared from fermentation of milk. Consumed for its prebiotic, easy digesting properties since earlier times, it was thought to have originated in the Bulgarian countryside from the herders. Although cow's milk is employed to a larger extent in making yoghurt, it can also be prepared from buffalo, goat, sheep and soy milk to which starter culture added.

Fresh Yogurt
Fresh homemade Yogurt.

Milk fermentation process

The milk contains disaccharide carbohydrate, lactose. When culture containing fermentation bacteria (Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) added, lactose converted to lactic acid. When enough lactic acid is produced, the milk coagulates resulting in a thick and custard-like textured food product.

Fermented milk separates into two distinct parts; the curd and the whey. It is consumed as is after being stirred or drained. It must be used as soon as possible and stored in the fridge.

Plain yoghurt is made from whole, skimmed or non fat milk. Natural yogurt contains no additional flavorings in it. The level of fat and milk solids in the milk will affect the texture, flavor and nutritional value of the yogurt.

Health benefits of yogurt

  • Yoghurt is a low calorie dairy product. 100 grams of plain, whole milk yoghurt holds of just 61 calories. Its nutritional value is almost equal to that of milk. Nonetheless, it contains additional probiotic compounds resulting from the fermentation process.

  • Fresh, plain yogurt carries more protein, vitamin-D, vtamin-C, folate, phosphorus and calcium vis-à-vis for the same amount of milk it prepared with.

  • Fresh yoghurt contains bacteria that facilitate the digestion of lactose. Since most of the lactose turned onto lactic acid, yoghurt is more easily digested than milk. It has a better digestibility quotient even in people with lactose intolerance.

  • Yoghurt is recommended as a prebiotic food since it contains compounds which favor growth of health benefiting bacteria in the intestines.

  • It contains several probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum which faciltate the growth of gut-friendly bacterial colony and suppress diarrhea causing agents.

  • Tryptophan, the amino acid in dairy products, facilitates the production of serotonin and melatonin in the brain and if taken before bedtime, encourages sleep.

  • Regular consumption of yoghurt helps to boost immunity and can fight against yeast infections and intestinal cancers.


See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
Yoghurt, whole milk, Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 61 Kcal 3%
Carbohydrates 4.66 g 3.5%
Protein 3.47 g 6%
Total Fat 3.25 g 16%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0%
Vitamins
Folates 7 μg 2%
Niacin 0.075 mg <10%
Pyridoxine 0.032 mg 2.5%
Riboflavin 0.142 mg 11%
Thiamin 0.029 mg 2.5%
Vitamin A 99 IU 3%
Vitamin C 0.5 mg <1%
Vitamin E 0.06 mg <1%
Vitamin K 0.2 µg <1%
Electrolytes
Sodium 46 mg 3%
Potassium 155 mg 3%
Minerals
Calcium 121 mg 12%
Copper 0.009 mg 1%
Iron 0.05 mg <1%
Magnesium 12 mg 3%
Manganese 0.004 mg <1%
Zinc 0.59 mg 5%

Preparation of Yogurt

Making yoghurt at home is easy and economical, and provides yoghurt that is rich in vitamins and minerals without any added sugar.

Wash utensils thoroughly and rinse well in hot water or sterilized before using. Milk is heated to 85° F for about 30 minutes. Addition of 3% to 5% of milk powder thickens yoghurt, makes it creamy and increases its nutritional value.

Cool the milk to 43° to 46° C, and then add culture. Dehydrated yogurt starter, fresh commercial yoghurt that still contains live bacteria, or homemade yoghurt prepared within the previous 5 days can be employed to make good yogurt.

Avoid stirring yogurt while it is setting, or it will be separate and become watery. Leave it to incubate for 4 to 6 hours at a constant temperature of at least 40° C. The use of a thermometer helps to monitor the boiling and establishes the exact moment to add the ferment.

The incubation temperature of yoghurt is crucial. The ideal temperature is 105° F to 115° F. Do not allow the temperature to go above 115° F or it will destroy the bacteria and prevent it from setting. Fermentation becomes slower if less than 40° C as lower temperature prolongs the setting time and makes the yoghurt sourer.

Whole milk results in a firmer, tastier yogurt that is higher in fat and energy than a yogurt made from skim milk. Gelatin or pectin can be added to the milk when it reaches the boiling point, if desired.

In order to minimise contamination risk, take care to set aside the amount needed for the next culture. Yoghurt made with a dehydrated culture is creamier, thicker and less acidic than yoghurt made with commercial yoghurt; moreover, it keeps these qualities for a longer time and it can be used more than once to make more yoghurt. After about one month, or three batches, the yoghurt degenerate and a new ferment must be used.


Buying

Fresh yoghurt can be readily available all round the year in the US stores. Check the use-by or sell-by date when buying. There is a wide range of the yogurt including set yogurt and various products such as frozen yoghurt, drinking yogurt and dehydrated yoghurt. One may buy flavored, fruit added in these stores.

Do not buy beyond expired dates as it may be out of flavour and sour in taste.


Storing

When the yoghurt set and achieved a desired texture and taste, refrigerate immediately to stop the further fermentation activity. Fruits or other ingredients are added just before eating.

Here are some steps to storing tips:

  • Avoid keeping it at room temperature as much as possible.

  • Each time, use a separate, clean spoon to get fresh yogurt.

  • If in deep freezer, preferably defrost it in the fridge (middle shelf) itself.


Serving ideas:

  • Yoghurt is eaten as is and can also be cooked.

  • It is added to soups, salads, meat, poultry, fish, race, pasta dishes, breads, cakes, desserts and drinks.

  • Yoghurt is used as a basic ingredient in several hot or cold soups, as well as for making cold sauces for grilled skewers.

  • It is used to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry and game.

  • It is an important ingredient in middle eastern and Indian cuisines. it is an accompaniment to curries and the basis of raitas-fruits or vegetables mixed with flavoured yoghurt.

  • Plain yoghurt can be used in place of cream, whether liquid, whipped or sour, and it can be added to mayonnaise or vinaigrette, reducing the level of calories and fat. If using it in place of cream in dishes requiring cooking, yoghurt needs to be stabilized by adding a little cornstarch. Bring it to room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before adding it to hot dishes and, if possible, at the very end of cooking.

  • Drinking yoghurt is made from fermented milk, to which a fruit flavoured syrup or sugar and fruit has been added, and is sometimes promoted as an alternative to carbonated soft drinks.

  • In India and Pakistan, the traditional mild sweet (or salty) form of drinking yogurt (lassi) is a popular summer drink. It is prepared by blending dahi (yoghurt) with water with added salt, and flavored with herbs like mint, ginger and fennel.


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Further Resources:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database. (opens in new window).

  2. NCBI-Survival of Yogurt Bacteria in the Human Gut US National Library of Medicine. (opens in new window).

  3. MDPI-The Inter relationships between Lactose Intolerance and the Modern Dairy Industry: Global Perspectives in Evolutional and Historical Backgrounds. pdf. (opens in new window).

  4. IFAS Extension-University of FloridaShopping for Health.. pdf. (opens in new window).

  5. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page-Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk (Link opens in new window).




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