Choosing the Best Yogurt: Expert Nutritionist Weighs In
Yogurt has become a staple on Italian tables, with a wide variety of options available in supermarkets. Known for its health benefits and weight loss properties, many people are eager to include yogurt in their daily diet. However, choosing the right yogurt can be a daunting task for many.
To help consumers make an informed decision, we turned to our expert nutritionist to find out the criteria for choosing the best yogurt based on their specific dietary needs.
Firstly, it is important to understand what yogurt really is. Yogurt is a fermented milk product that can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk. In Italy, fermented products from camel’s or mare’s milk are not classified as yogurt and are difficult to find. The fermentation process involves the use of bacteria from the Lactobacillus or Streptococcus genera, which can vary in duration. The yogurt can be strained or unstrained, resulting in different textures. The type of milk used also affects the consistency and creaminess of the yogurt.
Yogurt is a versatile food that can be eaten on its own or combined with various ingredients such as cereals, fruit, chocolate, and spices. It can also be used in cooking as a substitute for butter or a base for sauces.
Nutritionally, yogurt provides a good source of water, fats, proteins, and a moderate amount of sugars. On average, 100g of whole milk plain yogurt contains approximately 4g each of proteins, fats, and sugars. Yogurt is also rich in calcium, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc. However, it is important to note that yogurt contains lactose, although the fermentation process reduces the amount present. Lactose-intolerant individuals can opt for lactose-free yogurt, which is produced by adding lactase enzyme during the production process.
Yogurt offers several health benefits, including aiding digestion and supporting bone, teeth, skin, and hair health. The guidelines recommend consuming 1-3 portions of milk or yogurt per day, with a portion being 125ml or a jar of “classic” yogurt. Regular yogurt consumption provides highly bioavailable proteins without excessive fats and carbohydrates.
When it comes to choosing the right yogurt, there are several factors to consider. Yogurts can be classified based on their consistency (compact, creamy, and liquid), flavor (natural or flavored), fat content (whole or partially skimmed), and the addition of sugars or other substances. It is important to note that yogurts labeled as creamy, with cereal or chocolate praline, are not considered true yogurt and should be avoided.
The best choice is always whole white yogurt or natural yogurt without added flavorings or sugars. If desired, fresh fruit, dried fruit, dark chocolate, or spices like cinnamon can be added for flavor. Whole yogurt is preferred over low-fat or skimmed yogurts as the small percentage of fat aids in satiety and vitamin absorption.
The choice between Greek or “classic” yogurt depends on personal preferences and needs. Greek yogurt’s reputation as a protein-rich product is not entirely warranted. The same rules for choosing yogurt apply to Greek yogurt—opt for whole, white, and natural varieties.
In conclusion, yogurt is an excellent food that can be included in the daily diet of almost everyone, as long as they are mindful of lactose, phosphorus, potassium, and any potential drug interactions. By considering the criteria mentioned above, consumers can choose the most suitable and nutritious yogurt for their needs.