Dairy products are an effective part of any healthy meal plan, but choosing the right ones can make the difference between creamy smooth skin and a case of cottage cheese thighs. Milk or yogurt should be a part of your daily meal plan for the calcium and vitamin D they contain, but it doesn't really matter which you choose. Both are as good for you as they are good to enjoy.
Yogurt and milk are both healthy as long you keep an eye on the fat content in your milk and the fat and sugar content in your yogurt.
Nutrition in Dairy Products
Dairy products are excellent sources of vitamin D, calcium and potassium, which are often lacking in adult diets. Yogurt provides all of these as well as protein and the probiotics that support and encourage the beneficial gut bacteria necessary for healthy digestion and elimination. When choosing your dairy products, keep in mind that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, butter, cream cheese and cream are not considered dairy products because they contain almost no calcium. Soy milk that's been fortified with calcium is considered a healthy dairy alternative.
Greek and Regular Yogurt Benefits
Yogurt is made by adding certain types of bacteria to milk and letting it sit at a temperature of 110 to 115 F until it thickens. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the bacteria turns the primary natural sugar in milk, which is called lactose, into lactic acid. This gives yogurt its slight tang. Greek Yogurt is made the same way, but the liquid, or whey, is strained out of it, which is why Greek yogurt is thicker, creamier and has a stronger flavor. While both types offer calcium and potassium, regular yogurt contains more. The calcium in Greek yogurt is lower because of the missing whey. A Greek yogurt vs. regular comparison done by the culinary experts at Eating Well found, however, that Greek yogurt has fewer calories and carbs, less sodium and sugar and more protein than regular yogurt.
Benefits of Different Milks
Skim milk contains no fat, while low-fat milk contains about 2 to 5 grams of total fat per cup. But the dietary fat in dairy foods is less a problem than previously believed. This may be due to its metabolizing differently from other types of saturated fat, muses The Dairy Council of California, but more studies are required to be certain. Milk helps keep your teeth and bones strong and helps regulate your blood pressure, which helps lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Enjoying Yogurt and Milk
Milk is delicious chilled and poured into a tall glass, but you can also serve it warm with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a tablespoon of honey or even a splash of brandy to help you relax enough to sleep. And — as any child can tell you — it's also excellent on cereal. Hot milk poured over egg noodles or pastina seasoned with salt, pepper and a sliver of butter is a quick and comforting lunch on a cold day.
Yogurt is one of the most versatile ingredients you can have in your kitchen. Use plain Greek yogurt on chili and soups, or in tacos and quesadillas instead of sour cream. Depending on the fat and sugar content, there are between 130 and 250 calories in a cup of yogurt, making it the perfect choice for a light lunch or hearty snack. Add fruit and granola for a luscious parfait, or season it with dill and dip fresh-cut vegetables in it as an alternative to onion dip or ranch dressing.