Nonfat, plain yogurt is a dairy product created by the bacterial fermentation of milk. The process involves adding healthy bacteria to nonfat milk in a controlled temperature environment. Yogurt provides vitamins and nutrients, making it an appropriate option for breakfast, snacktime and other meals. Sweeten plain yogurt with maple syrup, agave nectar or honey or add it to a bowl of fruit or granola. For a healthy substitute when cooking or baking, use plain, nonfat yogurt to replace oil or mayonnaise.
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Like most dairy products, plain, nonfat yogurt serves as a healthy source of calcium. Nonfat plain yogurt provides your body with the calcium it needs without the unhealthy fat that comes from animal products such as beef. According to the NBC "Today" show's diet and nutrition editor, Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., CNS, 1 cup of plain yogurt offers one-third of your daily requirement of calcium, more than a glass of skim milk. Live cultures in yogurt improve your body's ability to absorb calcium, helping your body fight osteoporosis, improve bone density and decrease the risk of colon cancer. Calcium helps keep the acids present in bile from irritating the colon wall, according to Dr. William Sears. Plain yogurt offers more calcium than those with added fruit or sugar.
One cup of plain, nonfat yogurt contains up to 14 g of protein, one-fifth of most people's daily protein requirement. Yogurt offers a high amount of protein for just a few calories. Because protein helps satisfy hunger, consuming yogurt fills you up with less food and fewer calories. Not all brands of yogurt are created equal when it comes to protein; check the label to ensure the yogurt you choose has at least 8 g of protein per serving.
Eat nonfat, plain yogurt that contains "live" or "active" cultures, if you are taking or have recently taking a round of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill both healthy and harmful bacteria, leaving your body with fewer defenses against other possible infections. The probiotics in yogurt help refuel your body with healthy bacteria, minimizing the unhealthy effects of antibiotics.
Since yogurt is easier on the digestive system than milk, many people who have a milk intolerance can reap the health benefits of yogurt. The lactobacteria, or "intestines-friendly bacteria," present in yogurt negate harmful substances before they develop into carcinogenic bile acids. A healthy amount of lactobacteria in your colon reduces the risk of colon diseases such as cancer. According to Dr. Sears, the "intestines-friendly bacteria" help stimulate the process of moving food through the intestines, known as peristalsis.
According to "Fitness" magazine, excessive sodium intake may lead to heart or kidney disease and high blood pressure over time. Each cup of yogurt contains around 600 mg of potassium, which helps flush unnecessary sodium from your body.