The beneficial properties of yogurt
Yogurt is a great source of animal proteins of high biological value.
Yogurt is a dairy product made from the fermentation of milk with special lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria are a combination of lactic bacillus (Lactobacillus bulgaricus) and a lactic streptococcus (Streptococcus thermophilus), which, jointly acting, induce the coagulation of milk and shape yogurt’s particular taste attributes.
Today we know that thanks to these bacteria, which are contained in large populations (tens of millions) on each gram of yogurt and, more generally, due to the milk changes from the fermentation caused by such bacteria, yogurt is not only an excellent food, even better than the milk from which it is made, but has other, more general, beneficial effects on the health of its consumers. Many scientists do not hesitate in labeling such beneficial effects also as therapeutic.
As food, yogurt is considered equal and sometimes better than the milk it originates from. Indeed, yogurt is an excellent source of animal proteins of high biological value, which are estimated (on a scale of 100) to be 87%, compared to 84% for milk and about 75% for the proteins contained in meat.
Furthermore, yogurt’s proteins are easier to digest than those of milk, fact which is attributed to the changes caused principally by fermentation.
With respect to sugars, yogurt contains mainly milk sugar (lactose) which has been fermented by bacteria, by a percentage of 30-40%, and has been converted to lactic acid and other by-products (aldehydes, ketones etc). This fact, while not essentially decreasing the nutritional value of yogurt, decreases the number of calories – one of the objectives of modern dietetics.
Regarding vitamins, yogurt is considered as a good source as milk. The same holds with respect to calcium. Yogurt is a rich source and a 230-250gr of yogurt intake can help a person cover 50% of his daily needs in calcium.
With respect to the beneficial effects of yogurt in health, it is known that:
a) Lactic acid contained in yogurt stimulates the mobility of the intestines, causes an increase of gastric secretions, increases the digestibility of casein and encourages the absorption of calcium by the intestine.
b) It has been demonstrated that yogurt bacteria contribute to proper intestine function and protect this most valuable organ from various pathogenic bacteria which may cause enteritis. The consumption of yogurt proves especially beneficial for those taking antibiotics.
c) Yogurt intake lowers blood cholesterol, attributed to an anti-cholesterol substance produced by yogurt bacteria.
d) Yogurt can be better tolerated by people with an allergy to milk, or those who are lactose intolerant.
In conclusion, it can be said that yogurt is an excellent food for everyone, easily and rapidly digestible (300gr are digested within an hour) and has beneficial effects to our health and the proper function of the intestine in particular.