If you like it, you probably already have your favorite yogurt varieties and know that it makes for a great snack or dessert if you watch the sugar content. Soy yogurt is especially good for you, not only because it's full of antioxidants, but because it appears to help regulate enzymes that affect blood sugar, and may help lower blood pressure, according to recent research.
But don't forget that plain (non-soy) yogurt can stand in for mayonnaise or sour cream in virtually any recipe. Yogurt also makes a good ingredient in marinades, because the active cultures tenderize meat in the same way acids do. Yogurt can even be used in place of milk: Just add one-half teaspoon of baking powder to each cup of yogurt. Consider using creamy, full-fat yogurt. The low-fat and fat-free varieties often contain more sugar and other carbohydrates. Here are tips for getting the most out of yogurt:
- Make sure the yogurt you buy contains "live, active cultures" and lists the Latin names of these beneficial bacteria. Many of the health promoting properties of yogurt come from these bacteria.
- To preserve the benefits of the active cultures, don't heat yogurt above 120 degrees F.
- Check the "sell by" dates on the yogurt tubs, and buy those that are most fresh. (Yogurt lasts for about 10 days beyond the "sell by" date, but the sooner you eat it, the better, in terms of reaping the health benefits.)
- Stirring yogurt makes it lose its consistency and become runny.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N. 3/08
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