Yoghurt eaten by the people of Turkey who are said to have invented this delicious and nutritious food over 2,000 years ago. Yoghurt made from cows, goats, sheep and buffalo milk is a popular food throughout India, Asia Minor, Egypt and countries of the Mediterranean.
In the last decades of the 19th century, there was a tremendous interest in the scientific centers of Europe in the study of man from lands both near and far. In the course of these studies, scientists were astonished to learn that certain people in the Balkans and in Turkey seemed to be particularly healthy and lived to a great age.
This led to an intense study of their living and eating habits, the scientist Metchnikoff, a contemporary of the great Pasteur, seemed to have the answer: yoghurt.
He suggested that when yoghurt was eaten, the lactose fermenting bacteria it contained would establish themselves in the body. This, he believed, would have a beneficial effect on general health because the acid they produced would prevent the growth of undesirable bacteria which may be present.
He has since been proven wrong. Bacterial organisms, scientists later proved, normally used in the manufacture of yoghurt, will not establish themselves in the body.
Yoghurt would not allow the growth of disease organisms
The long life span of the Balkan people is more likely to have been due to the fact that yoghurt provided them with a safe form of milk. Because of its acid nature, yoghurt would not allow the growth of disease organisms.
Untreated milk in the days before pasteurization and refrigeration, was an ideal medium for their growth and a potential carrier of disease.
But Metchnikoffs beliefs did generate enormous interest in yoghurt as a health food and its popularity began to spread throughout Europe and then to the United States and finally to Australia.
The food value of yoghurt lies in the quantities of milk nutrients it contains. Since extra milk solids are normally added during manufacture, its food value per gram is actually greater than that of fresh milk.
What is the nutritional value of yogurt in the diet and why is it so popular
The actual content of nutrients will vary according to the composition of the original milk and the quantity of milk solids added. Yoghurt is now made by dairy companies all over the world and the nutritional value varies from brand to brand.
But taking general figures, the percentage composition of natural full cream yoghurt is: protein 4.7 percent, butterfat 3.8 percent, carbohydrates as milk sugars 6.4 percent. Yoghurt is also rich in calcium, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and has traces of iron. It also has a higher energy than milk.
According to the National Health & Medical Research Council, a 200gm carton of natural full-cream yoghurt will provide an adult woman with 8 percent of her daily dietary allowance for energy, 15 percent of her protein and 13 percent of her thiamine allowance, 11 percent of her retinol (Vitamin A), 40 percent of her riboflavin, 12 percent of her niacin and from 37-74 percent of her calcium allowance.
Yoghurt is an excellent food providing an assortment of nutrients in well-balanced proportions
Yoghurt is now available in a variety of forms – flavored with fruits and nuts and other natural ingredients, fat-reduced or non-fat (skimmed milk).
It is versatile in that it can be used to make a number of refreshing drinks by adding equal quantities of fruit juices, either canned or fresh, or it can be served with both fresh or stewed fruits; it can also be used as a base for sauces and dressings and added to casseroles and meat dishes in the same way as soured cream.
Yoghurt should be given the same care as other milk products. Keep it in the refrigerator and avoid shaking since both warmth and agitation will cause the curd to shrink, allowing the whey to separate.
Under good storage conditions at about 4°C yoghurt should keep for a week to ten days. If stored at higher temperatures, more acid will develop which will detract from the flavor and general acceptability of the product.