Dietitian reveals 5 reasons yoghurt needs to be a staple in your home

Yoghurt is one of those foods that just feels right to eat. Picture: Supplied

Yoghurt is one of those foods that just feels right to eat. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 25, 2024


In a world where the latest health trends usually cost an arm and a leg, there's a superhero of the gut health saga hiding in plain sight. Meet yoghurt, the unsung hero of digestive wellness, chilling (literally) in the dairy aisle of every store.

This humble snack is making waves in the wellness world, and it won't make a dent in your wallet. Let's dive into how your everyday yoghurt is turning into a gut health superstar without burning a hole in your pocket!

Yoghurt is one of those foods that just feels right to eat. Packed with nutrients, it's not only delicious but leaves you with a sense of vitality and well-being.

Yoghurt is a flexible, gut-healing food. Picture: Nicola Barts/Pexels

Yoghurt stands out, even among dairy products, for its remarkable nutrition. It's loaded with high-quality protein and vital minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins A and B12, among others.

We've always believed yoghurt is beneficial, but do we really know why? The secret lies in its making.

Yoghurt is created by fermenting milk with good bacteria, specifically lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. These “live cultures” are the heroes behind gut health, boosting immune function and even influencing our mood.

Moreover, yoghurt's probiotics are great for digestion. Dietitian Monique Piderit points out numerous studies that back up the health benefits of regularly consuming yoghurt.

It's so beneficial that dietary guidelines in many countries recommend including yoghurt, along with milk and maas, in your daily diet. The fermentation process also makes yoghurt easier to digest by breaking down lactose into lactic acid.

Reasons why you should make yoghurt a staple

The fermentation process of yoghurt significantly decreases its lactose levels, making it a safe option for those with lactose intolerance. This special method not only stretches the yoghurt's shelf life but also ramps up its food safety, according to experts.

Piderit points out that research from both local and international sources suggests eating yoghurt regularly could help lower the chances of becoming overweight or obese and developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart-related issues. Yoghurt is also key for good gut health.

By eating yoghurt often, you can boost the variety of good microbes in your digestive system and decrease long-term inflammation. This not only strengthens your body's ability to fight diseases but also positively affects your mental health.

Piderit, a dairy expert, sheds light on the variety, saying, "South African yoghurt lovers have the luxury of picking from five main fat content categories, all neatly defined by both international and local standards. The fat content really boils down to the type of milk used."

She goes on to clarify a common myth about yoghurt's fat levels. For instance, she says double-cream yoghurt packs about 6.5g of fat per 100g, and full-cream variants have around 3.4g.

Medium-fat yoghurt sits at approximately 2.4g of fat per 100g, and low-fat versions contain about 1.5g. The fat-free labels boast less than 0.5g per 100g.

Contrary to popular belief, even our richest yoghurt – the double-cream and full-cream types – are much lower in fat compared to typical high-fat snacks like boerewors or chocolate bars, which might have as much as 20 to 30g of fat per 100g.

In reality, all our yoghurt can be considered relatively low in fat.

How to increase your yoghurt consumption

Yoghurt is a flexible food that's ideal not only as a daily snack but also as a key ingredient in a wide range of dishes. From smoothies and salads to plant-based bowls, meat wraps, curries and even healthy breads and muffins, yoghurt can do it all.

Rediscover Dairy offers some tasty yoghurt-based recipe ideas for you to try:

Yoghurt parfait

Layer plain yoghurt with fresh fruit and granola, and top with chopped mint for a nutritious breakfast or snack.

Yoghurt & seasonal fruit smoothie bowl

Blend yoghurt with a choice of seasonal fruits. Create alternate layers of nuts, seeds, and honey topped with the yoghurt fruit blend for a refreshing and satisfying meal.

Spicy Greek yoghurt dip

Blend Greek-style yoghurt or double-cream yoghurt with herbs and add your favourite spices such as cumin and smoked paprika, as well as chillies, crushed garlic and a squeeze of lime for a flavourful dip.

Enjoy with vegetable crudités such as cucumber wedges, celery stalks, mange tout, carrot sticks or baby tomatoes.

Yoghurt smoothie

Quick and easy to prepare, blend plain yoghurt, a swirl of honey and any fruit, such as apple or banana slices, or whole berries. This nutrient-dense smoothie is perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, school and work lunch boxes or as a healthy snack.

Fruit yoghurt lollies

Try a blend of seasonal fresh fruit and plain full-cream yoghurt with light touches of muscovado sugar, honey and vanilla extract for a delicious, healthy treat that the whole family will love.