We’re not quite sure who invented it; yogurt historians theorize that we probably stumbled upon it by accident. Actually, there’s no such thing as a yogurt historian, but it has a nice ring to it.
Picture a whole group of them stroking their beards and heatedly debating yogurt’s historical implications, or peering through monocles into ancient clay jars to see if there’s fruit at the bottom.
That was fun, right? But enough make-believe.
While we’re not exactly sure how yogurt came to exist, we do know that human beings have been enjoying the stuff for quite some time. The medieval Turks loved it. Pliny the Elder remarked on its “agreeable acidity.” Genghis Khan fed it to his armies.
In ancient India, yogurt mixed with honey was called “food of the gods.” The Persians believed that the religious figure Abraham owed his longevity and fertility to yogurt. As legend has it, he lived to the ripe old age of 175 and had 9 sons, the first of whom wasn’t conceived until he was a centenarian. Hard to argue with that.
And as it turns out, they were on to something. We won’t make any claims that yogurt will help you keep that spring in your step until you’re nearly 200 years old, but it does have several scientifically verified health benefits.
Did you know that yogurt can help you trim down? A recent study found that dieters who cut calories and ate 18 oz of yogurt per day did better than those who cut calories but skipped the yogurt. The results were conclusive: the yogurt-eaters lost 22% more weight and 81% more belly fat. Because yogurt has calcium, it makes your body produce less of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes us to conserve calories.
Yogurt is also full of probiotics, billed on the label as “live and active cultures.” Just think of them in there, being all live and active. It’s like a little, tiny party. Probiotics aid in healthy digestion and prevent infections caused by bad bacteria. They may also help prevent diarrhea, constipation, IBS, and even colon cancer.
A few yogurt companies process all of these beneficial bacteria out of their products (party’s over). Obviously, you want the yogurt with the tiny party, so check the label.
Because it’s basically fermented milk, yogurt has plenty of protein, which will help you get big and strong. You’ll need a sturdy skeleton to support all of your muscles, and the calcium in yogurt will help you build one.
Yogurt also has B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Healthy heart? Check! High energy levels? Check! Mental clarity and healthy cells? Check and check!
You know what I could go for? Some yogurt. You too? Stop by Laughing Planet for a Mango Lassi Smoothie. In addition to all the other good stuff we put in it, we add Nancy’s non-fat yogurt. Or, if you’d like, you can add yogurt to any of our other smoothies for only 50 cents. Sure beats cleaning your blender.
[Photo Credit: wisegeek]