Sometime back we focused on probiotics and viewed beyond dairy products. Dairy products are so compatible with probiotics that they show up as the natural vehicle for reintroducing friendly microflora in to the human gut. And considering how commonly dairy products are used, how frequently they fare in the day-to-day menu, would it not be worthwhile to know what among them are rich in probiotics? Here’s an enumeration and brief description about dairy products that are good probiotics:
- Yoghurt: Curd and all curd-based raithas without the addition of hot tempering (the heat of the tempering may destroy some microbes and reduce their number) are rich sources of friendly bacteria. Raithas made of curd and onion slices/cucumber gratings/white radish gratings/diced plantain pith/boondhi are quite popular in India. Curd rice is a favourite of Indians. Probiotic yoghurt is available in a few Aavin outlets in Tamil Nadu. Yoghurt starter cultures naturally contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These help in the digestion of lactose and exhibit immune-enhancing properties. In addition to these, Lactobacillus acidophilus and/or Bifidobacterium bifidum are added in most of the commercial versions.
- Frozen yoghurt: A dessert made with yoghurt using a technique called Flash Freezing. This procedure that is not slow and long like the usual freezing, sends the bacteria into a dormant phase when frozen. The microbes revert to their active phase when they reach the human gut. For a quick tidbit on whether frozen yoghurt is as nutritious as regular yoghurt, refer this article in Tufts Journal.
- Lassi: A sweetened, chilled drink which is a blend of yoghurt, water and sugar that is served with a topping of clotted cream. At times mango pulp is added to the blend as a variation.
- Shrikhand: A Maharashtrian dessert that is easy to learn for the beginners. Shrikhand is yoghurt from which whey has been strained away, sugar and finely chopped nuts added. The semisolid sweet is sometimes relished as an accompaniment for pooris. The market-sold ones are pasteurized to extend shelf-life and do not bestow upon us probiotics (neither do they claim to). But the home-made ones (usually prepared in small quantities) with zero heat treatment and preservatives may offer us a good deal of the friendly bacteria. Watch the recipe at Manjula’s Kitchen.
- Piyush: A Mumbai-based drink that is sort of nutmeg flavoured lassi with a dash of lime juice. Get the recipe via enjoyindianfood or do it the Tarla Dalal way.
- Chaas: While Piyush is a sweet drink, Chaas is a spicy drink or masala buttermilk. It is prepared using diluted yoghurt, a combination of herbs paste, spices and salt. Learn the recipe of Mint Chaas from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.
- Probiotic Ice-creams: AMUL, India offers a line of probiotic ice-creams. ‘AMUL Sugar Free Probiotic Frozen Dessert’ caters to diabetics whereas ‘AMUL Prolife Probiotic Wellness Ice-cream’ is directed towards general wellness. These ice-creams are available in flavours like vanilla with chocolate sauce, chocolate, strawberry, figs and litchi. These products promise to improve immunity, digestion, prevent gut infection and manage traveler’s diarrhea. An Indian study published in Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, states that consumption of probiotic ice-creams can reduce the level of caries-associated Streptococcus mutans in saliva.
- Acidophilus Milk: Tangy flavoured drink produced by Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation of milk. It is usually prepared using low-fat milk and so is thinner than curd and of drinkable consistency. It aids bowel function and prevents yeast infections.
- Yakult: A Japanese probiotic drink obtained by fermenting skimmed milk by a special strain of Lactobacillus casei Shirota. It is sold in 65 ml bottles in India and claims to contain about 6.5 billion live Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain per bottle. Check it’s commercial.
- Kefir: Milk fermented by Kefir grains or SCOBY, i.e., Symbiotic Cultures of Bacteria and Yeasts. This slightly effervescent drink is more nutritious and easily digestible than yoghurt. The kefir berry smoothie and creamy kefir guacamole recipes at America’s National Kefir Association might interest you.
Probiotics do not stop with dairy drinks and desserts. In the USA, they are also added to some cream cheese spread, cottage cheese and sour cream.
The good news is that there are quite a lot of probiotic-rich dairy products that enable us to easily take The ‘Milky’ Way To Probiotics. The bad news is that some among them come with heaps of sugar and fat. So, stick to the simple buttermilk, yoghurt or cultured milk for your daily dose of probiotics; reserve the sweetened drinks and desserts for ‘once in a while’ or special occasions.