Does all yogurt have probiotics?

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Probiotics are increasingly popular due to their potential health benefits as friendly microorganisms for humans. When we say probiotic food, the first thing that usually comes to our mind is no other than Yoghurt. 

does all yogurt have probiotics?

How are yogurts made generally?

There are five main steps.

  1. Heating -mainly to kill harmful bacteria and for thickening yogurt
  2. Cooling down to allow to add of starter culture
  3. Adding starter culture  Adding active live cultures or a commercial yogurt starter culture (eg. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) to ferment the lactose in the milk and convert it into lactic acid to produce the characteristic tangy flavor of yogurt 
  4. Incubation – Sealing the container and allowing the yogurt to multiply the healthy bacterial culture at a warm temperature (for 4 to 12 hours) 
  5. Cooling and storage – Chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to thicken and stabilize the yogurt

Adding a starter culture – the most important step 

It is the step where beneficial probiotics are added. Some manufacturers add certain active strains of probiotics (eg. Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus acidophilus) for additional health benefits.

And it is also the step that makes a difference in the probiotic properties of yoghurt. 

What are the factors that influence probiotic potency in yogurt? 

The presence of probiotics in yogurt depends on 

  • Specific formulation
  • Manufacturing process 
  • Storage and temperature
  • Addition of artificial flavor and sugar
  • Heat Pasteurization  

What should be checked before purchasing probiotic yogurt? 

what should be checked before purchasing yogurt?

When purchasing yogurt, it’s important to check the product label or packaging for information about the presence of probiotics. 

  • Look for terms such as “contains live and active cultures” or specific strains of bacteria like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Some yogurt brands may also mention the number of live cultures or provide additional details about the specific probiotic strains used.
  • Manufacturing dates and Expiry dates are also important factors to check when purchasing. It is the best when manufacturing date is as near as possible to the time you purchase since extended shelf life may affect on viability of beneficial probiotic bacteria. 

Which yogurt does not contain significant amounts of probiotics?

Fruit-flavored yogurts

Some fruit-flavored yogurts may not contain as many live and active cultures compared to plain yogurts. Adding fruits and flavorings can sometimes affect the viability of the probiotics.

Heat-treated yogurts

Yogurts that have undergone extensive heat treatment during manufacturing, such as ultra-pasteurization or sterilization, may have reduced or no live and active cultures. These processes are employed to extend the shelf life of the product but can also eliminate or diminish the presence of probiotics.

Yogurt desserts 

Certain yogurt desserts, such as those with added sugars, flavors, or toppings like candies or syrups, may have fewer probiotics compared to plain yogurts. The added ingredients and processing methods can impact the probiotic content.

So, let’s return to the title, “Does all yogurt have probiotics?

You will now understand if my answer is “No”.

Since the probiotic property of yogurt depends largely on the manufacturing process, the addition of healthy probiotic strains, storage conditions, and the addition of artificial flavors, we cannot definitely say whether a bottle of randomly chosen yogurt contains enough probiotics or not. 

Some yogurt contains probiotic bacteria just to give its tangy flavor and yet, some are added with several strains of beneficial probiotic bacteria. It is important to choose according to your probiotic requirement

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Dr Tun Min is s GP working in NHS UK and writing articles about supplements and vitamins based on personal clinical experience and clinical research.

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