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All yogurts are not the same

PARIS, FRANCE. Researchers at the Hotel-Dieu Hospital have just released the results of an interesting study that clearly proves that yogurt containing live bacteria is superior to pasteurized yogurt. The clinical trial involved 24 healthy men (aged 20 to 60 years), 12 of whom were lactose intolerant. The men were randomized to consume 500 grams/day of either fresh or pasteurized yogurt for two periods of 15 days each, separated by a 15-day washout interval. The researchers found no detectable changes in fasting plasma glucose, insulin, fatty acid, triglyceride or cholesterol concentration. They did find that consumption of fresh yogurt (non-pasteurized) ameliorated lactose malabsorption in the lactose-intolerant men and that this beneficial effect became more pronounced the longer the men consumed the yogurt. On the other hand, ingestion of pasteurized yogurt and the absence of live bacterial cultures tended to further worsen the lactose maldigestion. They also noted a slight but significant increase in calcium intake after 15 days of fresh yogurt consumption in both the normal and lactose-intolerant men. Blood plasma levels of propionate increased significantly after fresh yogurt consumption. Higher propionate levels have been associated with improved glucose tolerance and a reduction in cholesterol levels in some studies.

The researchers conclude that long term consumption of fresh, unpasteurized yogurt can ameliorate lactose intolerance and may improve glucose and lipid metabolism in both normal and lactose-intolerant individuals.
Rizkalla, Salwa W., et al. Chronic consumption of fresh but not heated yogurt improves breath-hydrogen status and short-chain fatty acid profiles: a controlled study in healthy men with or without lactose maldigestion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 72, December 2000, pp. 1474-79

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