January is the time for New Year’s resolutions, and on top of almost everyone’s list is to lose weight. To lose weight and keep it off, you need a plan, and yogurt should be a part of that plan. The yogurt we’re talking about here is plain, lowfat yogurt. Yogurt comes in a huge number of varieties, including sweetened with lots of fruit, artificially sweetened with some fruit, thick and creamy Greek style, nonfat, full fat, and endless numbers of flavors. But for simplicity, we’re going to stick with the basics.
An 8-oz. serving of yogurt has 154 calories, so it’s not calorie-free, but that serving is packed with nutrition. It provides you with 13 grams of protein, over a quarter of your needs for a day, which makes it a very filling food that stays with you. You also get nearly half your recommended calcium—great for women—and about a third each of your recommended riboflavin and phosphorous. Each cup provides over 20% of your vitamin B12 and about 15% each of potassium and zinc.
You might find plain yogurt a bit bland, but that’s part of what makes it so versatile. You can mix it with any fruit for a tasty snack or whirr it in a blender with bananas and other fruits (think berries) for great smoothies. Yogurt is great layered into a glass with dry cereal and fruit. You can use it in dips that are far more nutritious than those with a sour cream base and substitute it for mayo in salad dressings or in chicken or tuna salads.
A unique benefit of yogurt is that it is made and even supplemented with beneficial probiotic bacteria during the manufacturing process. These bacteria enrich and support similar bacteria found naturally in our digestive systems, and eating yogurt regularly can help calm digestion and ease diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive upsets. Yogurt is particularly helpful for people taking antibiotics, which often reduce or kill the natural bacteria in the digestive system, creating digestive havoc.
While lactose intolerance might be a concern for some, many lactose-intolerant people can eat yogurt without problems. Yogurt contains lower amounts of lactose than milk does because the lactose in the milk is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial cultures during processing.