Dairy Yogurt: History, Types And Health Benefits

Did you know that yogurt is a staple food in some cultures? Yogurt has its origin in the Middle East and Western Asia. Its name is believed to be derived from the Turkish word ‘yoğurt’ which means tart, coagulate, thicken, thick milk or curdle milk.

Natural yogurt making is as simple as leaving fresh milk in a clean environment and letting healthy and friendly bacteria act on the milk. The reaction gives a sweet and delicious yet sour taste. The reaction results in production of lactic acid that acts as a preservative

The History Behind Yogurt Making

Historically, yogurt was a product from herdsmen’s pouches (intestinal gut). As the herdsmen walked around, the milk in their pouches which were made from animal skins fermented and turned into yogurt. The animal skin produced enzymes that reacted with the milk with the facilitation by the body heat.

The modern yogurt making procedure has a lot of similarity to the process followed in making the edible food in herdsmen’s pouches. Today, yogurt is made by combining bacteria (Streptococcus thermophiles or Lactobacillus bulgaricus) with milk and leaving it to sit at warm temperatures (1100F-1150F) for some hours. Commercial yogurt making may however have some variances.

Yogurt is an ancient food and has been in use for decades in different parts of the globe. It goes by different names depending on the location. Some of these names include; katyk (Armenia), leben raib (Saudi Arabia), cuajada (Spain), roba (Sudan), mast (Iran), matsoni (Russia, Georgia, and Japan), dahi (India), coalhada (Portugal), dovga (Azerbaijan), zabadi (Egypt), laban (Lebanon and Iraq) and iogurte (Brazil).

Yogurt has been incorporated in diets across the globe since 10000-5000 BC. Its usage was boosted by the domestication of milk producing animals such as sheep, cows, yaks, buffalo, camel, horse and goats.

Today, yogurt is readily available in stores across the globe. Online stores have made it possible to access yogurt even in areas where dairy farming isn’t practiced.

Popular Types Of Yogurt

Yogurt has received endless love in the past decade. It’s not only a breakfast staple but also easily wins as a snack. The fact that it blends nicely with baked foods and sauces makes it very popular. Some of the popular types of yogurt include;

Probiotic Yogurt

One may argue that every yogurt is probiotic. Well, it’s a fact that every yogurt starts with probiotics. However, it’s not all the yogurt that maintains the probiotics. Some lose it during the processing.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria. They include bacteria and yeast that are friendly to human body. Probiotics keep the gut healthy. They can be found in yogurt and other food supplements.

Probiotics in yogurt play the vital role of replacing lost probiotics. Intake of antibiotics leads to loss of probiotics and yogurt will be a great source of the probiotics. Intake of yogurt ensures that you are striking a balance between the ‘bad’ and ‘good’ bacteria.

Types Of Probiotics

Probiotics are quite many. They fall in different categories. The two main categories are lactobacillus and Bifidobactrium. Lactobacillus is found in fermented foods such as yogurt. Bifidobacterium on the other hand is found in dairy products. They are very effective in eliminating irritable bowel syndrome.

Plain/Traditional Yogurt

Traditional yogurt is popularly known as milk yogurt. This is the thick creamy yogurt that is rich in vitamins. It is normally made with whole milk thus contains all the nutritional value found in dairy milk.

Traditional yogurt is normally served plain but some brands have introduced flavored options. The yogurt is flavored with natural fruits and may even have real fruits and berries in the yogurt.

Yogurt lovers who are conscious about the protein intake will find traditional yogurt to be very friendly. The yogurt has low protein content making it a healthy treat.

Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt making is easy. Homemade yogurt has gained popularity over the past few years. With the increase in the types of yogurt makers, everyone now wants to make their yogurt at home.

Homemade yogurt making requires the milk to be heated to a high temperature enough to denature milk proteins. This process is known as scalding. The milk is then cooled to a temperature that is favorable for bacteria activity.

Once the milk has cooled, starter culture (bacteria) is inoculated. Usually, Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophiles bacteria will be used. The milk is then left in a warm area for a few hours. The yogurt should be ready in 5-12 hours.

Some people tend to like homemade yogurt that has fermented for long hours. Leaving the yogurt to settle for more than 12 hours increases acidity levels. This makes the yogurt have a tangy flavor.

Flavored And Sweetened Yogurt

Yogurt naturally has a tangy flavor. This is a sour flavor that many may not like. To make it appealing and tasty, yogurt is sweetened and flavored. The most common styles of sweetened yogurt found in stores include Swiss and set-style yogurt.

The process of sweetening yogurt includes the addition of sugar and sweeteners natural or plain yogurt. This is common in commercial yogurt making. Some manufacturers use modified starch to sweeten their yogurt.

The common yogurt flavors in the market include strawberry, mango, vanilla, peach, blueberry and cherry. Some unique flavors such as honey, toffee and raspberry may also be found. All these flavors will give a great blend when used as desserts.

Major Yogurt Benefits

Yogurt is whole food and comes with numerous health benefits. The intake of yogurt not only relieves irritable bowel syndrome but also protects against osteoporosis. These are just but a few of the many benefits which include;

Supply Of Probiotics

Yogurt naturally contains probiotics and a number of manufacturers have adopted recipes that include addition of probiotics after heating the milk. These probiotics are healthy bacteria that are very beneficial to the gut.

Probiotics not only help in the control of constipation, gas and diarrhea but also boost the overall immunity. Research has shown that probiotics also help in weight regulation and reduction of cancer risk.

Calcium Supply

Yogurt naturally contains calcium. The percentage of calcium content may vary from one brand to the other. The percentage will be determined by the processing. Case in point, plain yogurt may have higher calcium content than fruit yogurt. This is because the fruits and sugar make up a huge percentage of the yogurt.

When selecting your favorite yogurt, always check the label for ingredients percentage. You will realize that some yogurts have very high calcium percentage while others may have very low percentage.

Yogurt Contains Essential Proteins

Yogurt is no doubt an excellent source of proteins. Just like calcium, protein varies from one type of yogurt to the other and from one brand to the other.

Greek yogurt is known to have lots of proteins. Strained Greek yogurt may have up to 20 g of proteins in every 100 g container. Traditional yogurt may have lower protein content. If your target is the protein content, you ought to go for brands whose protein content is between 8 and 10 g per serving.

Yogurt Prevents And Controls High Blood Pressure

Our greatest enemy is the salt that we find so appealing. Research shows that we tend to take more than double of the daily recommended amounts of salt. This can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure.

Yogurt contains potassium that is essential in flushing the excess sodium. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of potassium. It contains 600 mg of potassium in every 8 ounces. Studies conducted by an American journal show that there’s a 54% lower risk of suffering from high blood pressure for individuals who take two or more servings of low fat yogurt compared to those who don’t.

Rich Supply Of Vitamins And Mineral Salts

Yogurt contains most of the essential vitamins and mineral salts needed in the body. These include phosphorus, iodine, zinc, riboflavin, potassium, vitamin B5 and vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is vital in repair and maintenance of blood cells. It also plays a vital role in the functioning of the nervous system.

 Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance can be a major hindrance to enjoying your favorite meals. Yogurt is one of the whole meals that will be favorable for individuals suffering from lactose intolerance.

Yogurt contains the calcium that those suffering from lactose intolerance lack. It is thus very essential that one takes yogurt frequently to supply the body with the much needed calcium.


Yogurt is a whole meal that has become a favorite for many across the globe. Yogurt types and varieties are quite many. The selection of the best option can be a little confusing.

Health specialists recommend going for brands with low sugar and additives but are high in probiotics and vitamins. These are the varieties that will have health benefits. You just need to check the list of ingredients to see what brand has most of the friendly ingredients.

If you aren’t comfortable with any of the brands in the market, you can make your yogurt at home. Yogurt making isn’t complicated. There are numerous recipes that you can follow. Having a yogurt maker at home will be an added advantage.

A yogurt maker will make it easy for you to make your yogurt and gives you the opportunity to try different recipes. A high quality yogurt maker doesn’t require manual operation. You just need to pre-set, toss in the ingredients and wait for your yogurt.

Homemade yogurt has loads of benefits. Try all the healthy yogurt options at home and stand to enjoy maximum benefits. You may check out some of the yogurt making recipes that are healthy and easy to make. Have fun making yogurt at home or try out other milk preservation techniques to maximize on your profits.