There’s something so rich and creamy about a bowl of Greek yogurt that makes it the perfect breakfast food to start the day. It’s possible that you’ve seen probiotics listed on the front of yogurt containers, but what do probiotics in Greek yogurt do, exactly? Beyond taste and versatility, the probiotics in Greek yogurt boost digestion and reduce inflammation, making us feel more comfortable in our bodies and give us the necessary energy to be productive at work, explains Liz Traines, a healthy lifestyle coach. Reaping these many benefits on a regular basis can make for some pretty fantastic results.
On a more scientific level, “Probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria, or live cultures, just like those naturally found in your gut. These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. This functional component may boost immunity and overall health, especially GI health,” explains Lauren Blake, registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Here’s how to identify these powerful strains of bacteria: “Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the only two cultures required by law to be present in yogurt. However, many yogurts have more than these two. Research has yet to determine which probiotic strains can elicit specific benefits, but when it comes to looking at ingredient labels, the more bacteria strains a yogurt contains, the better,” advises Blake.
These probiotic benefits include “weight loss, lower cholesterol, decreased anxiety, improved immune function, fewer seasonal allergy symptoms, and relief from a host of gastrointestinal maladies, from irritable bowel syndrome to travelers diarrhea,” researchers at Reviews.com emphasize.
If you’re worried about losing out on the benefits of probiotics because you’re eating expired or almost expired yogurt, Blake suggests eating as close to purchase as possible for maximum benefits. “The number of live bacteria likely will decrease as the yogurt sits in the refrigerator, so fresh is best,” Blake advises. “The bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus tends to be more stable during storage than other bacteria.”
Enjoying Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit makes a balanced meal; you can get fiber from the berries, protein from the yogurt, and healthy fats from the nuts. Thankfully, yogurt is incredibly versatile. Traines recommends that you can enjoy it in a sweet or savory form, in a smoothie, as a base for soup, as a dip, or even in baked goods.
I don’t know about you, but I know what I’ll be eating for breakfast tomorrow.