Written by Gaby Burt-D’Agnillo, BSc Nutrition Candidate

Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD

Yogurt may be a simple food, but the science can be complex. Today, let’s talk about how yogurt is made, what benefits it can offer, and how to choose the best yogurt for you and your family.

What is Yogurt and How is it Made?

Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is made by adding bacterial cultures to milk. Bacterial cultures called Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus ferment lactose (milk sugar) to produce lactic acid. The fermentation of lactose gives rise to the characteristic flavours and textures of yogurt.

Yogurt can be made from any type of milk. Full fat yogurt is made from whole milk and contains at least 3.25% milk fat. Low fat yogurt is made from low fat milk and contains ~2% milk fat. Non-fat yogurt is made from skim milk and contains less than 0.5% milk fat. Plain unsweetened yogurts will offer the most health benefits.

Nutrients in Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in a variety of nutrients. It is an excellent source of calcium, B vitamins, and trace minerals including phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Unlike milk, current Canadian regulation does not permit yogurt to be enriched with vitamin D. However, certain brands of yogurt are made with milk that is enriched with vitamin D and can be identified by referring to the Nutrition Facts table on the packaging.

Just one cup of plain whole-milk yogurt provides 8.5 grams of easily-digestible protein. Protein promotes feeling of fullness to help with appetite management. Greek yogurt is especially high in protein (and lower in sugar). It is made by straining out the whey and lactose in regular yogurt to create a product that is thick,

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