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April 27, 2011 | 2 minute read

Cooking with Yogurt?

Yogurt — a legendary healthy food — is featured in this week’s Health-e-Recipe for Zesty Roasted Chicken. As a marinade, plain yogurt tenderizes poultry or meat thanks to the same bacteria that helps your digestive tract stay healthy when you eat a cupful.

Yogurt is made from fermented milk. When it is not processed into sugary, fruit-flavored products, yogurt is a very healthful food, especially when it still contains live bacteria that supplement the good bacteria in the gut. Mixing up plain yogurt with a half-cup of fresh fruit and a teaspoon of honey in a bowl or blending it into a smoothie is a better quality fruit yogurt than most packaged yogurts

Lots of digestive problems — among them, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and diarrhea — involve lack of healthful bacteria in digestive tract. And chronic inflammation from conditions like these is linked to higher cancer risk. Although research is not yet conclusive, it is possible that people with digestive conditions like these or who are taking high doses of antibiotics may help restore the bacterial balance in their digestive tracts by eating yogurt.

Yogurt provides protein, calcium and B vitamins — although not all yogurt is fortified with vitamin D (which promotes calcium absorption), so you need to check the label for this vitamin. People who are moderately lactose-intolerant may be able to tolerate yogurt because its healthful bacteria neutralize the lactose. Yogurt also comes in soy- and rice-milk versions.

You can also use plain yogurt in sauces for cooked vegetables, topping a baked potato instead of sour cream or becoming a healthful, creamy sauce ingredient for cooked spinach and broccoli. It tastes great mixed with tomato paste, rich in lycopene, horseradish or mustard for a sauce or salad dressing. Plain Greek yogurt is thicker than other kinds, making it even creamier.  If you’re a fan of Indian cooking, mix plain yogurt marinade or sauce with curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cardamon, ginger and other herbs and spices (which also contain cancer-fighting compounds).

For more delicious healthy recipes, visit AICR’s Test Kitchen or subscribe to AICR’s weekly Health-e-Recipes .

(Photo source: National Cancer Institute)

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