Yogurt has been an essential component of Greek diet for centuries, with its beneficial properties being known since antiquity. There are references by historian Herodotus and later by physician Galen on the important benefits of yogurt for our health.
Thanks to the small percentage of sugar contained in yogurt, it is considered a healthy choice for our children. Apart from all the different types of yogurt in the market, there are also yogurts for kids which are designed to cover their special dietary needs and are not the same as yogurt desserts, which are targeted at adults.
According to the Food and Beverage Code, yogurt dessert is the product which is made by one or more categories of milk (or even milk ingredient) or yogurt yeast with lactic acid bacteria, texture improvers, natural flavors, sweeteners and others. They differ from kids yogurt desserts in that they have lower content of beneficial ingredients and larger quantities of added sugar.
Kids yogurt desserts are designed to cover the children’s nutritional needs. They are an exceptional source of high organic value protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and various B-complex vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12. During the process of production of regular yogurt, vitamins and minerals are lost due to their sensitivity in environmental changes. The fortification of kids yogurt desserts with the ingredients listed above, covers this loss.
When it comes to calcium in particular, a valuable mineral which is essential for healthy bone growth and brain, muscle and heart function, yogurt’s lower Ph in comparison to the milk’s, helps with better intestinal calcium absorption.
Some kids yogurt desserts contain vitamin D. A recent study on kids living in Greece has shown that the percentage of school-age children with low levels of vitamin D at the end of winter is as close as 52%. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is absorbed together with food fat. This makes dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D the ideal sources for its intake.
Moreover, kids yogurt is fortified with probiotics and/or prebiotics which help with the smooth function of the digestive system and the strengthening of the body’s immune system.
During the fermentation of yogurt, 20-30% percent of the lactose is hydrolyzed. This process makes yogurt more tolerable for children with lactose intolerance.
Finally, by improving the insulin profile in children, kids yogurt also reduces obesity and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Pediatrician – Neonatologist
Formerly at the A’ University Clinic of “Agia Sofia” Hospital