I frequently refer to flavored yogurt – yes, the kind we all see lining grocery store shelves labeled “probiotic” and “gut friendly” with names as creative as “Twisted Screamin’ Green Apple” – as the premier fake-healthy food in our lives today. We’re told be media, labels, and advertisements that yogurt can make us healthier, but at the end of the day, yogurt is one of the most processed foods on the market.
Why? Well lets think about it for a second. What exactly is yogurt anyway?
Put simply, yogurt is fermented milk. It consists of just 2 ingredients – milk and bacteria strains.
But if you look at the ingredient lists of most flavored yogurts, you’ll find many more ingredients. Things like: calcium lactate, inulin, carob bean gum, and of course, sugar – lots and lots of sugar. I’ve seen over 10 ingredients on most yogurt cups.
The best way to eat yogurt is the ancient way – plain and tart (not sweet) – the way humans at it prior to the 20th century. Yogurt originated in Southeastern Europe and was originally a health food. History suggests plain yogurt was administered to the King Francios of France to help relieve him of a digestive ailment. It wasn’t until 1947 that sugar was added to yogurt. Prior to that time, it was enjoyed along with salt as a refreshing drink in places like Turkey and parts of India. It was also used as an accompaniment to main course meals in Persia. It was most often flavored with vegetables, herbs, and spices, and honey – never sugar. And the milk didn’t always come from cows – goat and sheep’s milk were also used.
In my house, I eat yogurt on occasion flavored with a small dollop of raw honey or rose water. You can also add mint and a small amount of sea salt to it – whizz it up in a blender – and enjoy as a drink. At the end of the day, we should be adding flavor to yogurt ourselves – not buying it pre-flavored.
Yogurt does have wonderful probiotic properties, but you’ll get the most of these properties if you choose yogurt from grass-fed sources and yogurt that’s not been pasteurized at high heat levels.
Some of my favorite brands are Wallaby and St. Benoit.