Yoghurt is a popular dairy product eaten and loved by people across the globe. Its origin dates back to 5000 BC in Mesopotamia (present Iraq) which was discovered purely by accident. It is made by fermenting milk with bacterial cultures such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
In certain Asian countries, curdling of the milk is also achieved by squeezing lemon juice into the milk. The lactose sugar present in the milk is converted into lactic acid, which causes the milk to curdle giving it a thick and layered texture with a slight tanginess. The result is curd, which is different from yoghurt mainly because of the difference in bacteria that aids fermentation.
How Is Yogurt Made?
Yoghurt can be made from all types of milk, including cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, etc. There are also many varieties of yoghurt that are made from non-dairy alternatives such as soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk. Yoghurt is an incredibly versatile food item which can be eaten on its own or used in a variety of smoothies, dips, sauces, marinades, and bakery items. It is an excellent source of nutrients such as protein, calcium, and iron. It also offers many other health benefits since it is a probiotic and plays an important part in one’s diet.
This item can easily be prepared at our homes and also commercially for large-scale consumption. The fundamental principles of preparing yoghurt remain largely the same. However, large manufacturers can add colours, flavours, additives, and other nutrients according to the preferences of their target audience. Currently, the market is filled with a wide range of yoghurt-based drinks targeted at people of all age groups and varying lifestyle preferences. Its huge popularity is mainly due to the favorable health benefits it offers. Let us explore them in detail.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
- Probiotics: Yogurt contains live bacteria which are considered good for our overall health. They usually live in the gut and help in maintaining a healthy digestive system and a strong immune system. It is found in most fermented food items including yogurt.
- Immunity boost: Adequate consumption of yoghurt fights against gastrointestinal infections, the common cold, and other gut-related ailments. It also contains magnesium, zinc, and selenium which improves the immunity of the body.
- Good Source Of Protein: Yogurt is a good source of protein that is required for building and repairing muscle and bones. 100 gm of greek yogurt contains 10 gm protein.
- Good Source Of Calcium: This food item is rich in calcium which gives strength to the bone and prevents the occurrence of osteoporosis. For this reason, children are encouraged to drink milk or yogurt since 100 gm of yogurt contains 110 mg of calcium.
- Minimises the risk of cancer: Yogurt contains anti-carcinogenic elements which helps in countering colon, bladder, and breast cancer.
- Blood sugar regulation: Consumption of homemade yogurt with minimal sugar will also allow you to regulate your blood sugar levels and is particularly helpful for patients suffering from type-2 diabetes.
- Helps in weight control: Consuming yogurt is usually filling which reduces appetite and minimizes one’s calorie intake. People trying to control their weight are usually advised to eat yogurt regularly for this reason.
- Minimises symptoms of allergy: Having yoghurt minimizes the number of antibodies produced by the immune system when it responds to any allergic reaction. This helps in ensuring any case of allergic reaction has minimal effect on the body.
- Minimises inflammation: Probiotics in yogurt can also help in reducing cases of inflammation which is linked to various other health issues.
Who Shouldn’t Have Yogurt?
While yogurt is known for its health-boosting properties and ease of preparation, it may not be suitable for a certain group of people.
- Lactose intolerance: This occurs when the individual has a low count of lactase, an enzyme needed to break down lactose in milk. While they may still be able to drink milk or have yogurt in small quantities, it may not be advisable to have it in larger quantities since it may lead to digestive issues, stomach pain, and even diarrhea in some cases.
- Milk allergy: Milk-based products contain certain proteins which may cause an allergic reaction in some. This may cause various forms of allergic reactions, some of which may also be life-threatening.
While such cases are quite rare since most of us consume milk and milk-based products right from birth, some may develop intolerance or allergy to milk over time. It’s best to have someone observe the person while consuming it just to be safe.
Difference Between Yoghurt and Curd
While most of us use the words curd and yoghurt quite liberally since they are considered to be the same in many ways. There are certain key points of differences between the two. The main difference lies in the bacterial cultures used.
- Yoghurt is made from Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus strains while the bacterial cultures used to make curd are Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum.
- Yoghurt is usually thick, creamy and tangy while the curd is thinner and slightly sour.
That being said, they have a lot more in common and their classification entirely depends on the region and how it is prepared.
How To Make Yoghurt At Home?
For those who wish to try their hands at preparing yoghurt at home, here are simple step-by-step instructions:
- Heat the milk until it boils. You can use any type of milk as per your preference. Buffalo milk is usually thicker while cow and goat milk is lean.
- Once the milk is heated, place it on a flat surface and let it cool down until is mildly warm.
- Add the bacterial culture or leftover yoghurt from the previous batch. Mix it thoroughly until it is evenly mixed.
- Cover the container and keep it overnight for the milk to ferment. This usually takes anything upto 10 hours depending on the amount of milk and bacterial culture added.
- Once this phase is over, check for the consistency of the yoghurt. The resulting output should be thick and creamy. If it is thin or watery, it needs more fermentation. Repeat the previous step but only for a few hours.
- Once the yoghurt has acquired the desired consistency, it should be kept in a refrigerator to prevent further fermentation and thickening of the curd.
- Once this is done, you can have the yoghurt as per your preference.
To conclude, adding yoghurt to our diet can have numerous health benefits. However, it also depends on how you have it. If you opt for the commercial version, it will have sugar, additives, and preservatives which may not help you in your effort to attain good health. Stick to the plain, unsweetened yoghurt or maybe with a hint of sugar just mask the tanginess in case the taste doesn’t work for you. No harm in a little incentive every once in a while!