Benefits and disadvantages of yoghurt

yoghurt with cherries image by Elke Dennis from

Yoghurt is a custard-like substance derived from curdled milk and comes in many varieties -- plain, natural, unsweetened, organic, sugar-free, flavoured and frozen. Yoghurt provides several health benefits to the eater, including sometimes promoting good digestive health. But as with virtually any food, there are potential drawbacks as well as benefits to eating certain types of yoghurt.

Health benefits

Milk products such as yoghurt are highly beneficial in preventing high blood pressure and building strong bones and teeth. The potassium content found in yoghurt helps keep blood pressure at a healthy level, and the calcium content provides the building blocks for proper bone mass and healthy teeth. Eating 237 ml (1 cup) of yoghurt per day can contribute to preventing osteoporosis due to the calcium content and added vitamin D found in yoghurt. This is especially true when you start a child on a healthy diet that includes yoghurt.

Digestive benefit

The helpful probiotic found in yoghurt, known as Lactobacillus acidophilus, can help the body digest food and balance the good bacteria found in the intestines. These probiotic properties of yoghurt can assist in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, which is often caused when hospitalised patients take antibiotics. Balancing the bacteria in the intestines with yoghurt is not only safe, it's an effective and inexpensive way to rectify a medicine-induced problem and reduce intestinal inflammation associated with diarrhoea.

Lactose intolerance benefit

Eating yoghurt can help prevent the abdominal pain, diarrhoea and bloating reactions experienced by lactose intolerant individuals. When lactose intolerant people ordinarily consume milk products, the small intestine does not metabolise the lactose, thus leading to allergic reactions. But when lactose intolerant subjects ate yoghurt in one study, researchers found that the fermented milk present in yoghurt assisted in proper lactose digestion.

Sugar-free yoghurt disadvantage

According to, there are about 19 grams (0.7 oz) of sugar in 237 ml (1 cup) of plain yoghurt made with skimmed milk. Many flavoured varieties of yoghurt contain a higher sugar content, depending on the flavour and brand. For some individuals, this quantity of sugar is a drawback, especially if they're on a diet. Thus, some people turn to the sugar-free variety of yoghurt, which is often formulated with aspartame. Aspartame has come under quite a bit of scrutiny and controversy, but Mayo Clinic doctors say no real danger has been found in aspartame apart from individuals who suffer from phenylketonuria, a condition where individuals cannot properly break down the amino acid phenylalanine. In this case, sugar-free yoghurt varieties can be a harmful disadvantage.

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