Probiotic yoghurt was in the news last month when a study was published linking consumption of probiotics to an improvement in severe cases of dementia. The randomised control test involving 60 Alzheimer's disease patients was carried out over 12 weeks – with half the subjects given a probiotic drink each day and half given a placebo. Although small in scale and limited to those with advanced Alzheimer's, the study suggested that probiotics DO play a vital role in preserving brain function.
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But that's not the only good reasons to tuck into a pot of natural yoghurt...
1. Nutrition rich
As a dairy product, yoghurt is a useful source of some of the vitamins and minerals we need – containing calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium, and magnesium. There is around nine grams of protein in a small serving, with Greek yoghurt having twice as much as some other varieties. Yoghurt is also a significant source of phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
2. Keep colds at bay
A study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a small daily serving of yoghurt was effective in boosting immunity to colds among the subjects tested. This may be thanks to some of the nutrients listed above, but women eating the yoghurt were found to have stronger and more active T cells – which help fight infection. A separate Swedish study found a strong correlation between consumption of a certain strain of probiotics and resistance to colds – with 33 per cent fewer sick days amongst those taking the drink.
3. Lowers high blood pressure
Many of us eat too much salt, resulting in high sodium levels in our bodies and an associated rise in blood pressure – which can lead to strokes and other illnesses. The potassium in yoghurt can help lower our sodium levels, enabling our kidneys to work better as it balances out the negative effects of salt.
4. Digestive aid
Whether you're eating normal or enhanced probiotic yoghurt, it could be having a positive effect on your digestion. The "good bacteria" contained in yoghurt is understood to balance microflora in your gut - improving lactose digestion, preventing constipation and potentially having a healing effect on the intestinal tract. Look for mention of "live" or "active cultures" on the label to make sure you're getting the good stuff.
5. Drop a dress size
If you want to lose weight, try adding low-fat natural yoghurt to your diet. Researchers found that people who ate fat-free yoghurt while dieting lost almost twice as much weight as those who did not.
Volunteers who ate 18 ounces a day - while cutting their total calories — lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more belly fat than dieters who skipped the snack, according to research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Experts believe that the calcium in dairy products helps to speed up the weight-loss process.
6. Saving face
You don't even have to eat yoghurt to benefit from it. Save money on pricey face cream by mixing yoghurt with a few drops of olive oil and a tablespoon of honey, then applying it like a normal facemask. The lactic acid in the yoghurt will act as a gentle exfoliate, helping to clear up minor blemishes.