Yogurt: The Healthy Secret To A Long Life?

In the ‘70s, a hugely successful Dannon yogurt advertising campaign claimed that people in Soviet Georgia lived longer because they ate more yogurt. Although there is no actual proof that you’ll live to be 100 if you eat it, yogurt is definitely a valuable staple in a healthy diet. It’s not just a fruit-in-the-morning phenomenon, either: Yogurt can be incorporated into any meal of the day. Plus, when bought by the quart, it costs 15 cents per ounce—and that's for an organic brand.

Stock yogurt as one of your kitchen staples, and keep in mind these healthy tips.

The Nutrition Facts Behind Yogurt.

Yogurt is packed with calcium and protein; it gets this extra boost from active cultures, which help protect the gastrointestinal tract from infection, assist in the absorption of nutrients in the intestines, and stabilize the immune system. Most people who suffer from lactose intolerance can still enjoy yogurt. And, a few spoonfuls can help neutralize some of the uncomfortable side effects of ingesting antibiotics.

Zero In On The Label.

Different brands vary greatly in nutritional value, so choose wisely. Protein can vary by up to 17 grams per six-ounce serving, and the amount of sugar and artificial additives can differ tremendously depending on what kind you buy. Start with common sense—plain yogurt is healthier than yogurt with chocolate chip cookies, Butterfinger, or M&M toppings, which can easily contain up to 28 grams of sugar. Next, don’t get lured in by the catchy front label. Instead, inspect the ingredient list to determine how healthy each selection is. My house brand lists ingredients like “cultured, pasteurized, nonfat milk”…and that’s it. In this case, less is certainly more.

It’s Greek To Me.

Yogurt can be divided into two camps: Greek and everything else. Greek yogurt is strained, making it thicker and creamier than other commercial yogurts. There’s “Greek yogurt” and “Greek-style yogurt”; the latter has a lot of the same taste and texture as Greek yogurt, but lacks the incredibly high protein content of the bona fide version (which can have up to 20g of protein per cup). The good news is that all yogurt contains probiotics, which are oh-so-healthy for you. I favor Greek-style yogurt for eating plain and for dips and spreads. Organic, low-fat yogurt works best for marinades and shakes.

Creative Cooking.

Try sneaking yogurt into dishes to add an extra nutritional dimension. Substitute yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream or buttermilk (in equal proportion). You can also use yogurt instead of mayonnaise for a tangy salad dressing, or instead of a cream sauce or marinade for meat, fish, or poultry. It has the same effect as lemon juice or vinegar—its acid tenderizes.

Click on the pictures below to see some of my favorite ways to work yogurt into your diet:

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  • Jeancbrown

    Great post! I always buy the big containers of plain yogurt–top it with honey for a snack, or use it as a topping for dishes. One of my favorites is to chop up some mint (from my herb garden!) and stir it into the plain yogurt as a cool topping for curries!

  • Jeancbrown

    Great post! I always buy the big containers of plain yogurt–top it with honey for a snack, or use it as a topping for dishes. One of my favorites is to chop up some mint (from my herb garden!) and stir it into the plain yogurt as a cool topping for curries!

  • Sheila

    I never thought of using yogurt in place of sour cream. Has anyone tried this? Just wondering how much of a taste difference there was. I like yogurt, but I haven’t been able to learn to like the Greek kind yet.

  • Kevlola

    those commercials were awesome when they danced. i love the greek yogurt brand, the greek gods (hermes is the best flavor). i often put in plain yogurt when making onion dip and also in cakes for moisture. i eat yogurt every day for breakfast with some granola and bananas.

  • Kevlola

    those commercials were awesome when they danced. i love the greek yogurt brand, the greek gods (hermes is the best flavor). i often put in plain yogurt when making onion dip and also in cakes for moisture. i eat yogurt every day for breakfast with some granola and bananas.

  • Meg

    Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. I use non-fat Greek yogurt as a topping on baked potatoes, in dips, etc. Fage 0% fat free yogurt is my favorite, it’s the closest in taste to sour cream. Some of the other brands are more tart.

  • Meg

    Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. I use non-fat Greek yogurt as a topping on baked potatoes, in dips, etc. Fage 0% fat free yogurt is my favorite, it’s the closest in taste to sour cream. Some of the other brands are more tart.

  • Meg

    Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. I use non-fat Greek yogurt as a topping on baked potatoes, in dips, etc. Fage 0% fat free yogurt is my favorite, it’s the closest in taste to sour cream. Some of the other brands are more tart.

  • Meg

    Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. I use non-fat Greek yogurt as a topping on baked potatoes, in dips, etc. Fage 0% fat free yogurt is my favorite, it’s the closest in taste to sour cream. Some of the other brands are more tart.

  • Meg

    Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. I use non-fat Greek yogurt as a topping on baked potatoes, in dips, etc. Fage 0% fat free yogurt is my favorite, it’s the closest in taste to sour cream. Some of the other brands are more tart.

  • deborahauter

    Cabot 10% Greek is the very best yogurt.