Yogurt is a healthy food because of the probiotics it contains. Does soy yogurt offer the same benefits?
Yogurt has become a popular snack food as people discover the health benefits of the probiotics found in this “good for you” food. Probiotics are being praised for their ability to improve digestive health and even treat some diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and traveler’s diarrhea. Probiotics even help to prime the immune system to fight off cold and flu viruses. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy the probiotic benefits of dairy yogurt because they’re lactose intolerant or allergic to milk. Does non-dairy yogurt such as soy milk yogurt have the same probiotic benefits?
There’s good news for people who can’t eat dairy products. They can still get the health benefits of probiotics from non-dairy yogurt. Making yogurt involves adding bacteria to milk which causes a fermentation proces to take place. Bacteria feed on the natural sugars contained in the milk and produce lactic acid which causes the milk to curdle and thicken to the consistency of yogurt. Because of the lactic acid, yogurt has a slightly acidic taste.
Yogurt can be made from any type of milk – including soy milk. Organic soy milk yogurt is quite popular among vegans who don’t consume dairy products. Because non-dairy yogurt is made in the same way as dairy based yogurt, it contains active yogurt cultures with probiotic benefits too. The problem is some yogurts – both dairy and non-dairy – are pasteurized after they’re made which kills the active bacterial cultures. To compensate for this, companies add probiotic bacteria back into the yogurt after pasteurization. This means that the number and type of probiotic bacteria can vary widely between brands.
One of the best ways to get the probiotic benefits of non-dairy yogurt is to make your own homemade soy yogurt in the comfort of your own kitchen. You can find instructions on how to do this online. It’s easier if you have an inexpensive yogurt maker to keep the temperature steady, although you can use an oven as long as you can maintain it at a temperature of around 100 degrees Farenheit for seven hours. The advantage to making your own homemade soy yogurt is you can be assured it has active cultures since it won’t be pasteurized.
Homemade soy yogurt and organic soy yogurt bought in stores has the advantage of being lower in fat than yogurt made with whole, dairy milk. Whether you make your own or buy an organic soy yogurt with active cultures, you can still get probiotic benefits – even if you don’t eat dairy.