If you have already committed to incorporating more yogurt into your diet (kudos), the next step is to make sure you get all the possible benefits out of it. Whether you’re weak on flavored yogurt, Greek yogurt, skyr or non-dairy, plant-based yogurt, registered dietitian and nutritionist Kristie Leigh, RD, Director of Scientific Affairs at Danone North America, has tips to make sure you get the most. possible out of every delicious spoonful.
How to reap the most yogurt benefits for bowel health and digestion, according to an RD
1. When buying groceries, keep yogurt cool by putting it with other cold items in your shopping cart
Dairy-based yoghurt must be stored cold for food safety reasons. But temperature matters when it comes to all types of yogurt, including those that are plant-based, and here’s the reason (in addition to the food safety factor): According to Leigh, yogurt should stay between 32 ° F and 45 ° F to protect its life, active bowel-strengthening cultures, and she has some practical suggestions for maintaining this temperature.
First, Leigh recommends that you store yogurt in your shopping cart next to other cold or frozen products while you shop, and then pack the same items together to keep the yogurt cool on the way home. When you are at home, store the yoghurt on a middle shelf – avoid the refrigerator door where the temperature fluctuates more. “This will help ensure that the vibrant and active cultures and quality of the yogurt are maintained,” says Leigh.
A little research can go a long way when it comes to finding the yogurt that meets your needs
Leigh points out that there are many different types of probiotic strains, each of which offers different benefits. Knowing what specific strains are in your yogurt is the key to knowing what you are getting out of it. For example, according to Leigh, the widely used Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG strain has been shown to support immune health. However, it is not always straightforward. First, Leigh notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the use of the word “probiotic” on food labels. That means you will have to dig deeper to learn more about specific tribes.
The first step, Leigh says, is to search the product label for the specific strains of the yogurt. The names of these strains usually consist of the genus, species and the specific strain, expressed as a combination of numbers and / or letters. Adding the stem name in a search engine can help you figure out what benefits – if any – that strain is associated with. “There are products that contain many different ‘probiotics’ in one formula, but without the strain information you will not be able to determine if the bacteria in the product are actually tested probiotic strains or cultures without a studied benefit,” says Leigh.
Leigh also stresses that when it comes to the number of probiotic strains in a serving of yogurt, more is not always better. “Depending on the benefit you’re looking for, you may only need one probiotic strain to get that benefit,” she says. The same applies to the number of colony forming units (CFUs), which is the number of living microorganisms in the product. “The number of CFUs needed to get the benefit depends on the probiotic strain, so without a little research, it’s hard to know if you’re getting the amount needed,” Leigh says.
Combine your yogurt with plant-based foods to diversify your diet
Although yogurt can do a lot of heavy lifting alone when it comes to gut health, mixing it with plant-based foods can add flavor, texture and additional gut-strengthening benefits.
Referring to results from the American Gut Project, a crowdfunded civic science project that collects data on the human microbiome, Leigh notes that people who consume 30 different types of plants a week have been shown to have greater intestinal bacterial diversity – an indicator of good gut health – compared to those who ingested 10 or fewer plants per week. “Fortunately, many plant-based foods go well with yogurt, such as fruits, grains, vegetables and even nuts,” says Leigh. Takeaway? Topping your yogurt bowl with dried cranberries, cherries, banana slices, peanut butter, toasted almonds or chia (or all of the above) is an important force for your gut health.
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