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Does Your Yogurt Have the Right Stuff?

Yogurt is simply milk that has been curdled by the addition of two friendly bacteria, S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus. These cultures break down sugar (lactose) in the milk and give yogurt its creamy consistency and tangy taste. They also make yogurt more digestible for people with lactose intolerance and enhance the body's absorption of calcium and other minerals in yogurt, says Kasi Reddy of yogurt producer Stonyfield Farm. But some yogurts have more to offer than others.

Culture club
When people talk about the healthy bacteria in yogurt, they are referring to probiotics; not the starter cultures. Probiotics are found in some (but not all) brands; check the label. Often only L. acidophilus is added. But Stonyfield Farm, the leader of the probiotic pack, contains four types of bacteria on top of the starter cultures. The label should also specify live active cultures, yogurts that have been heat treated or pasteurized after culturing contain no beneficial bacteria. Cooking also kills the bacteria in yogurt.

The fresher the better
As yogurt ages, the probiotic count declines. To get the biggest bacteria boost and the most calcium, choose nonfat or low-fat yogurts with an expiration date far in the future.

Chilled Yogurt-Cucumber Soup
In a saucepan, bring 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, 2 cucumbers (peeled, seeded, and sliced), and 1 small onion (sliced) to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 min. With slotted spoon, transfer solids to food processor (discard broth); puree. Stir 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt into puree. Chill. Garnish with minced red onion. Serves 4. [Per serving: 107 cal, 2 g fat, 236 mg calcium]

For more delicious yogurt recipes, visit the Healing Kitchen recipe archive.

Date Posted: 05/01/2002

Date Published: 04/30/2002
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