By Naini Setalvad
The humble ‘dahi’, an intrinsic part of the indian diet, has far more health-enhancing properties than we are aware of
Indians have grown up hearing about the much-loved Lord Krishna, also known as ‘dahi chor’. What is it about yoghurt that even Lord Krishna could not resist? It is delicious, of course. Besides that, yoghurt is an extremely versatile food – buttermilk, raita, shrikhand, lassi, dips, curries, smoothies, and so much more. It can also be an excellent breakfast food and goes well with seeds and fruits.
However, many of us are not aware of yoghurt’s health-enhancing properties and do not make full use of it.
Yoghurt is a living food. This means that it is produced by the action of friendly bacteria on the milk sugar (lactose) that turns it into lactic acid. When milk becomes yoghurt, it is easier to digest, a boon for people with lactose intolerance.
The name probiotic, meaning ‘for life’, throws light on the properties of yoghurt. Probiotic food is food that contains live bacteria. Any fermented food contains probiotic bacteria. Some examples are ice-cream, cheese, mother’s milk, curd, etc. Did you know that your stomach is a storehouse of probiotic bacteria? The simplest probiotic food is yoghurt. Just by eating curds occasionally, you would have consumed a billion probiotic bacteria till date.
The bacteria in yoghurt are highly beneficial for overall health.
Benefits of yoghurt:
Eating fresh yoghurt regularly is the most effective way to restore the balance of intestinal bacteria called ‘flora’
• Increases the absorption of minerals and synthesis of B vitamins
• Of great benefit for people suffering from yeast infections such as candida
• Prevents diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and other bowel problems
• Good to fight off unfriendly bacteria that cause food poisoning and traveller’s tummy
• It is a protective food and supports the immune system to battle infection on a number of levels
• It is not fattening at all. Instead, it keeps you fuller for longer and hence helps you to avoid reaching out for junk food.
• Beneficial for bones and teeth because of calcium content
• It contains a low pH level thereby reducing the risk of harmful bacteria invading the body. Apart from curing indigestion, acidity and diarrhoea, it also reduces bloating and flatulence
• Helps in reduction of eczema, inflammation and mental illness, improves immunity to germs and decreases childhood allergies and asthma
• Also said to help reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Helps to get rid of bad breath
• It is associated with longevity. Whether it adds years to your life or not, it certainly enhances your health
However, it is important to note that the above benefits are only provided by ‘live’ yoghurt i.e. yoghurt made through a natural process without adding any external chemicals to hasten the process from milk to curd.
Go ahead and enjoy your cup of yoghurt. It is delicious, healthy, easy to make, economical and most importantly something you will love to indulge in!
CURD AND MINT DIP
•250 gm hung curd
•½ bunch chopped mint
•1 tsp mustard oil
•2-3 chopped green chillies
•Salt to taste
Hang the curd for 2-3 hours until all the water drains out. Add salt, chopped mint leaves, oil and chopped green chilies to it. Serve chilled.
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