Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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How to choose yoghurt (#FF @canva)

Choosing Yogurt

Do you like the infographic I made? It’s pretty simplified (but that’s what infographics are supposed to be, right?). I know that the yoghurt (or yogurt if you’re anyone else in North America besides me) aisle can be overwhelming so I made this little guy to help you navigate it.

That’s where the Follow Friday came in. I used Canva which was totally free and very easy to work with. If you’re looking to make a simple infographic and don’t have the funds to pay a graphic designer I definitely recommend checking them out.


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Can yoghurt prevent diabetes?

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A friend of mine recently shared the news of a new study reporting an association between yoghurt consumption and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The study was actually a meta-analysis of three large studies. Meta-analyses always make me a little nervous due to the ease of cherry picking and interpreting the results to yield the desired effect. The results of a meta-analysis can only be as good as the results of the original studies on which they’re based. I’m not saying this was the case here, just that it’s something to bear in mind when reading about meta-analyses. The researchers do have on their side the fact that all three studies had large sample sizes. After examining the results of these three studies, they added an additional 11 prospective-cohort studies for their meta-analysis.

The researchers controlled for a number of potential confounders. However, there’s always a remaining risk that an unaccounted for confounding variable might be the true reason for any observed effect. While the researchers reported a significant decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in regular yoghurt consumers they were also quick to acknowledge that this does not indicate causation. Yes, people who consume yoghurt appear to be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who don’t. However, the studies all relied upon self-reported food frequency questionnaires and they were observational. It is possible that there is some unaccounted for variable that’s reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in yoghurt consumers other than the yoghurt.

The researchers do make an interesting suggestion that the probiotics in yoghurt may be responsible for the decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. I do wonder about the validity of this as many yoghurts contain limited live bacteria due to their processing. In addition, it’s unlikely that many probiotics in yoghurt survive the acidic stomach environment to make their way to the intestines. Perhaps it’s the by-products of the bacteria in the yoghurt (e.g. vitamins, lactic acid) that are responsible for decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Just postulating here. I would love to see a study in which participants are prescribed diets containing either yoghurt with live bacteria, yoghurt without live bacteria, and no yoghurt. Yes, it would take a long time to determine if the yoghurt reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes but other effects could be examined as well and it would be interesting to see what the true effects of ┬áregular yoghurt consumption are on health.


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Probiotic yoghurt vs regular yoghurt

I often hear people talking about probiotic yoghurt. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine as all yoghurt should, by its very nature, contain probiotics, not just the stuff marketed as probiotic.

Probiotics are simply the bacteria used to make the yoghurt. If you look at the label of your yoghurt container it should list “active cultures” in the ingredients. There are your probiotics. The types of bacteria present in each brand of yoghurt vary and, unfortunately, we don’t know which are the most beneficial. There have actually been very few studies on the benefits of these probiotics. Despite the lack of research into the specific microorganisms present in yoghurt, we still know that, at the very least, low-fat yoghurt (preferably plain or at least sugar-free) is a good source of protein and other nutrients such as calcium.

Don’t feel compelled to choose the special probiotic yoghurt. Go with the brand you prefer as you’ll be getting probiotics regardless of marketing.


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Home-made yoghurt

Judging by the hits on my blog last weekend people are way more into making their own cheese than they are into cabbage. Since that’s the case I thought that I’d give you a recipe for cabbage rolls today.

Just kidding. How about making yoghurt? It’s pretty simple to do. You don’t need a fancy yoghurt maker. All you need is milk (use whatever percentage you prefer – skim milk works it will just make a slightly runnier yoghurt than higher fat milks) and yoghurt containing “active cultures” aka bacteria (the good kind) that you’ve purchased. Once you’ve made one batch you can use that for your active cultures for future batches.

Pour 2 cups of milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat and leave to cool to about 115F (if you don’t have a thermometer, use a clean finger. If you can keep your finger in for 10 seconds it should be about right). Dispose of any skin that’s formed on the milk. In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of the milk and a heaping tablespoon of yoghurt. Return the mixture from the bowl to the saucepan of milk and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a clean, lidded container. Close the container, wrap in a towel, and leave in a warm place for about 8 hours. Voila, yoghurt! Keep refrigerated from this point on to avoid unwanted microbial growth and use in about a week.

If you want to make Greek yoghurt, strain your home-made yoghurt through a cheesecloth.

Serve with fresh fruit, granola, and nuts. You can also flavour it by added citrus zest, honey, or maple syrup.

I’ll be taking tomorrow off from blogging for Remembrance Day.