All about yogurt
Yogurt is naturally packed with nutrients essential to growth, development and maintenance of your incredible body. It can be given to children as part of a weaning diet. It can be included in packed lunches. It can be eaten as a dessert. It can be used in the cooking of sweet and savoury dishes. It’s versatile, healthy, quick, nutritious and a much loved Müllerlicious moment of pleasure.
Yogurt is the closest thing we have to a nutritionally complete food and dairy plays an important role in a healthy and balanced diet. All of our products are clearly labelled, with the nutrient content and we keep things interesting by appealing to different tastes.
The science bit
Yogurt is not as straightforward as it seems. There are dozens of different textures, flavours and fats The nutritional composition of yogurt is affected by different factors including the species and strains of bacteria or cultures and whether it’s whole, semi or skimmed milk. The temperature and duration of the fermentation process, as well as the addition of ingredients such as fruits also make a delightful difference to the end result. But despite these variations, yogurt naturally contains many of the same nutrients as milk and is considered to be a nutrient rich food.
How it's made
Yogurt is produced through the fermentation of milk by lactic acid bacteria, usually Lactobacillus bulgarius and Streptococcus thermophilus. First the milk is heat treated and homogenised. Then it’s cooled to allow the addition of bacteria or starter culture.
Given the right conditions (i.e. correct temperature and moisture) the bacteria can ferment the milk sugar (lactose), producing lactic acid the milk proteins then coagulate and set, to form yogurt with its its distinct flavour.
Natural yogurts made with semi-skimmed or skimmed milks usually have a lower calorie content compared with natural yogurts made with whole milk. Once you add sugar, you can expect the calorie content to increase but you can see the difference in sugar content on the labels of each pack.
Fructose from fruit and natural milk sugar also add to the sweetness and sometimes we use artificial sweeteners to give you that yummy sweet taste for fewer calories. Be sure to read the label so you can make the best decision for you.
The protein in yogurt is a complete protein because it provides all the amino acids a body needs to build and renew. The protein present in yogurt tends to be more readily digested than the proteins present in milk. This is thanks to the bacteria in yogurt that breaks down the milk proteins for you.
The form of carbohydrate found in yogurt and all dairy products is the sugar known as lactose. Lactose is digested by the enzyme lactase into glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed and used to produce energy.
Before fermentation, the lactose content of yogurt is about 6%. Once the fermentation process begins, lactose is digested by up to 20-30% into its absorbable components, glucose and galactose.
This process lowers the lactose concentration in yogurt compared with milk, and partly explains why yogurt is easier to digest than milk.
The fat content of yogurts varies depending on the product. At the top end you have full fat yogurts at around 10% fat. Whole milk yogurts come in at around 4-5%, 3.0% or less for low fat yogurts and fat free or non-fat varieties contain 0.5% fat or less.
Yogurt is a great source of calcium, which we need for healthy teeth and bones, amongst other things.
The reason that milk, yogurt and other dairy foods are good providers of calcium is because they contain significant amounts of calcium in a bioavailable (easily absorbed) form.