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The Health Benefits of Yogurt

yogurt with cherries

By USDAgov [CC BY 2.0],
via Wikimedia Commons

I began my love affair with yogurt as a young child. I was prone to colds and, for awhile, vaginal yeast infections, so my mother began looking for ways to help boost my immune system. One of the things she found was that Lactobacillus acidophilus, a healthy bacteria found naturally in the body and in yogurt, helps maintain an acidic environment in the body, which, in turn, helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Yogurt, which you can find in a variety of styles and flavors at any grocery store, has quite a few health benefits:

⇒ It contains animal protein. Your body uses dietary protein to build and repair tissues; and make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is a key component of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Incorporating yogurt into your diet can help you maintain a good balance of protein.

⇒ It contains calcium, which is needed for healthy bones and teeth. It is also useful in weight management and reducing PMS symptoms. There is evidence that calcium may play a role in the prevention of cancer, too. And calcium also plays a role in heart health.

⇒ It contains vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, an important chemical for a variety of cellular functions, such as deriving energy from your food. It helps your body absorb iron, which is important for healthy red blood cells. B2 also protects you from free radicals, chemicals that can speed aging and raise your risk of cancer and other diseases.

⇒ It contains vitamin B12. Along with vitamin B2, B12 helps produce energy from nutrients and supports production of new red blood cells, replacing the old, worn out cells. It helps your nervous system function properly and supports DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is also needed for the enzyme that coverts a bad amino acid, called homocysteine, into a harmless compound. The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that keeping blood levels of homocysteine low may have significant benefits for your cardiovascular system.

⇒ It contains potassium. Potassium’s primary functions include building muscle, synthesizing proteins, controlling the heart’s electrical activity and maintaining pH balance. It is also needed for maintaining the body’s total fluid volume, keeping your electrolytes in balance and ensuring normal cell function. Research suggests that a diet high in potassium can help reduce the risk of stroke, lower blood pressure, preserve bone mineral density and reduce the formation of kidney stones.

⇒ It contains magnesium, which is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in your body, including food metabolism and the creation of fatty acids and proteins. It is also involved in the communication between nerves and muscles, which affects performance and relaxation. Not getting enough magnesium can lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease and osteoporosis.

⇒ It is a good source of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which are the “friendly bacteria” found naturally in your digestive system and help with digestion. Evidence suggests that the probiotics in yogurt contribute to a healthy immune system and digestive tract. There is also some research that suggests that probiotics can help with skin conditions, urinary and vaginal health, prevention of allergies and colds, and aiding in oral health.

As you can see, yogurt is packed with a plethora of health benefits. And with the wide variety of styles and flavors available, as well as the convenient packaging, you are sure to find a yogurt that works with your lifestyle and pleases your tastebuds.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.