If you’ve already committed to incorporating more yogurt into your diet (congratulations), the next step is to make sure you’re getting the full benefits possible. Whether you like flavored yogurt, Greek yogurt, skyr, or non-dairy plant-based yogurt, registered dietitian and nutrition expert Kristie Leigh, RD, director of scientific affairs at Danone North America, has tips that will ensure you get the most out of it. most out of every delicious spoonful.
How to make the most of yogurt’s benefits for gut health and digestion, according to an RD
1. When shopping, keep yogurt cold by placing it next to other cold items in your basket
Dairy-based yogurt must be kept cold for food safety reasons. But temperature matters when it comes to all types of yogurt, including plant-based ones, and here’s why (in addition to the food safety factor): According to Leigh, yogurt should stay between 32°F and 45 °F to protect her live, active gut-stimulating cultures, and she has some practical suggestions for maintaining that temperature.
First, Leigh recommends keeping yogurt in your cart next to other cold or frozen items while you shop, then bagging those same items together to keep the yogurt cold on the way home. Once home, store yogurt on a middle shelf, avoid the refrigerator door, where temperatures fluctuate more. “This will help ensure that the live, active cultures and quality of the yogurt are maintained,” says Leigh.
2. A little research can help you find the yogurt that meets your needs
Leigh points out that not all yogurts contain probiotics and that there are many types of probiotic strains, each conferring different benefits. Knowing which specific strains (if any) are in your yogurt is key to knowing what you’re getting out of it. For example, according to Leigh, the widely used Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG The strain has been shown to support immune health. It’s not always simple, however. For one thing, Leigh notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the use of the word “probiotic” on food labels. This means you’ll have to dig deeper to learn about specific strains, especially since not all yogurts contain probiotics.
The first step, Leigh says, is to look on the product label for specific yogurt strains. The names of these strains usually consist of the genus, species and specific strain, expressed as a combination of numbers and/or letters. Plugging the strain name into a search engine can help you determine what benefits, if any, that particular strain is associated with. “There are products that contain many different ‘probiotics’ in one formula, but without the strain information, you won’t be able to determine if the bacteria in the product are actually studied probiotic strains or cultures with no studied benefit. “, says Leigh.
Leigh also points out 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 goes for the number of colony forming units (CFU), 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 bit of research it’s hard to know if you’re getting the amount needed,” says Leigh.
Leigh also recommends looking for probiotic products with multiple benefits. “For example, some brands of yogurt can do double duty by supporting your gut health as well as your immune system. The all-new Activia+ multi-benefit drinkable yogurt is a great example: it’s packed with probiotics, supports your gut health, and has like vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C to help support the immune system.”
3. Pair your yogurt with plant foods to diversify your diet
While yogurt can do a lot of work on its own when it comes to gut health, mixing it with plant-based foods can add extra flavor, texture, and gut-boosting benefits.
Citing findings from the American Gut Project, a crowdfunded citizen science project that collects data on the human microbiome, Leigh notes that people who ate 30 different types of plants per week showed greater diversity of gut bacteria. , an indicator of good intestinal health. —compared to those who consumed 10 plants or less per week. “Fortunately, many plant-based foods pair deliciously with yogurt, such as fruits, grains, vegetables, and even nuts,” says Leigh. Take-out? Topping your yogurt bowl with dried cranberries, cherries, banana slices, peanut butter, toasted almonds, or chia (or all of the above) is a major move for your gut health.
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