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Nutrition Tip Tuesday: Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt

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Yogurt has quickly become a favorite dairy option for many Americans and several varieties of yogurt have practically taken over the dairy aisle in grocery stores nationwide. While there is a lot of controversy about the health effects of dairy, it may surprise you to learn about the proven health benefits of yogurt! No sure what makes yogurt so special compared to its other dairy family members? Here are my top health benefits of yogurt and how to increase your consumption of this powerful (and tasty) food to improve your overall health!

This week's Nutrition Tip: Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt

Dannon Yogurt Bar at FNCE 2016

Dannon Yogurt Bar at FNCE 2016

I had the pleasure of meeting the incredibly smart and witty Toby Amidore (MS, RD, CDN) at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston about a week ago and she gave a great presentation on the health benefits of yogurt. Now it's my turn to share this information with you! Plus I will include some of my favorite ways to add more yogurt to your daily diet to receive the amazing health benefits I will discuss below.

Top Health Benefits of yogurt:

1. Improve Digestive Health with probiotics ("good Bacteria"). These live cultures of healthy bacteria help promote gut health and may be beneficial for those who suffer from IBS and several other intestinal diseases (i.e. Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis).

2. Boost Immune System by increasing the number of T cells, which defend your body from toxins and infections. Studies have also found that increasing the number of T cells can help prevent certain types of cancer, especially Colon Cancer.

3. Improving Heart Health by reducing blood pressure. Dairy, and therefore yogurt, is a great source of Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium and studies have found that these minerals may lower high blood pressure and protect the heart. Many other studies have found a link between eating low-fat and non-fat dairy products and reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes.

4. Bone Health. You may already know that dairy is a great source of calcium that is recommended for optimal bone health, but yogurt is especially important in bone health due to its combination of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein - all of which work together to protect your bones throughout your lifespan.  

5. Weight loss. Several studies show a link between daily yogurt intake and weight loss. This is especially true when Greek yogurt is consumed on a daily basis due to a higher protein content and lower sugar content in Greek yogurt compared to traditional yogurt. Due to the higher protein content of Greek yogurt, it takes longer for the body to digest it and many consumers stay fuller longer, thus reducing total calories consumed!

6. Decreased Risk of Diabetes. Several studies have shown a reduce risk of Diabetes for individuals who ate the greatest amount of dairy each day. The reduced risk is even greater when individuals consumed Greek yogurt (due to its higher protein and lower sugar content).

7. Bonus Benefit of Greek yogurt!! Not all yogurts are created equally and it's clear to see that Greek yogurt offers greater benefits with its higher protein and lower sugar content compared to traditional yogurt, but it also has less lactose than regular yogurt because the straining process of making Greek yogurt removes most of the lactose. In fact, 6 oz of Greek yogurt has only 4g of lactose compared to the 13g in traditional yogurt and can be tolerated by most lactose-intolerant consumers.

My yogurt bar creation and an awesome Greek Yogurt Cookbook from Toby herself!

My yogurt bar creation and an awesome Greek Yogurt Cookbook from Toby herself!

So now that I have explained the health benefits of yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), here are some easy (and tasty) ways to add some yogurt to your favorite recipes and increase your daily yogurt consumption!

1. Add plain Greek yogurt to your favorite smoothies or Overnight Oats for a creamy texture and extra calcium and protein!

2. Replace Mayonaise with plain Greek yogurt in ANY recipe, especially Deviled Eggs and Chicken / Tuna Salads.

3. Replace Buttermilk with plain Greek yogurt in any creamy dressing or to add body and flavor to thinner vinaigrette-type dressings.

4. Add plain Greek yogurt to your homemade Guacamole and transform your everyday dip into a nutritional powerhouse by adding a creamier texture and lots of protein!

5. Replace half the amount or all of the cream cheese / sour cream in your favorite casseroles or dips with plain Greek yogurt to significantly cut calories, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

6. Replace part of the butter in your favorite cookie, brownie, and frosting recipes with plain Greek yogurt to reduce the calories and fat content without missing out on the creamy and fudge textures that you love.

7. Build a yogurt bowl!! My favorite way to add more yogurt to my diet! Fill a bowl with plain yogurt of choice and add some fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts or seeds, some clean granola, and a drizzle of honey for the perfect snack to satisfy any sweet tooth!

** Bonus ** Crack open an individual container of Siggi's Icelandic yogurt and go to town with a spoon! Love Siggi's yogurt because it not only tastes amazing and has the perfect creamy texture, but because it is also higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional yogurt!

Loved the Siggi's tent at FNCE this year!

Loved the Siggi's tent at FNCE this year!

So there you have it! The top health benefits of yogurt (specifically Greek yogurt) and my favorite ways to add more yogurt to your daily diet!

So what are you waiting for? Grab a spoon and gobble up those health benefits asap!

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