Chapter 68 excerpt All Yogurts May Not Be Probiotic or Equal
- The live culture seal on yogurt containers is voluntary and its presence implies that the yogurt contains at least 100 million bacteria per gram at the time of manufacture.
- Some brands subject yogurt to heat treatment in an attempt to boost the shelf life, resulting in killing the bacteria. This step gets rid of any potential benefits of these bacteria.
The knowledge that yogurt, with its probiotic bacteria, provides healthy nutrition has been passed on through generations. It was Dr. Metchnikoff1 who, in the early 20th century, publicly espoused the benefits of yogurt for health. In fact, he attributed his own health and longevity to yogurt.
Yogurt Consumption in the United States
An average American eats 4 to 6 pounds of yogurt per year. The commercial market for yogurt exceeds $2.2 billion in the United States, and the popularity of yogurt continues to grow. The texture of different yogurts is obviously different and depends on a variety of factors.2
Yogurt Versus Milk
A big advantage of yogurt over milk and its other products is that yogurt contains bacterial lactase. Yogurt may be better tolerated by those with a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, manifesting as lactose intolerance, although data are mixed. Yogurt is considered especially beneficial for gastrointestinal health.2,3
Live Active Cultures
- The application of heat treatment to yogurt results in killing the bacteria while extending the shelf life of the yogurt product. Most of the health-promoting beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria are thus lost.
- A brand of yogurt containing live cultures has a logo or seal (in the form of "A C," which stands for active cultures) on the container. Thus, yogurt may be made by active cultures but may or may not have the bacteria depending upon the brand.
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