Unlike traditional yogurt, frozen yogurt is categorized as a non-standardized food and doesn’t have to meet government ingredient standards. Some frozen yogurt does contain live cultures. So how do consumers know which frozen yogurts do have live cultures? Also, what are live cultures, are they good for you and if so, why are they good for you?
What Are Live Cultures?
All regular and frozen yogurt must be made with the bacterial cultures from Lactobacillu bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilis. These are the living organisms that turn pasteurized milk into yogurt during a fermentation process. In heat treated yogurt, these cultures are killed when the yogurt is heated after fermentation. Some manufacturers heat treat yogurt products to give them a longer shelf life or to lessen the tart taste in the yogurt.
Differences between Frozen Yogurt with and without Live Cultures
Some frozen yogurts use heat treated yogurt which kills the live cultures. Some others add other cultures and do not use the fermentation process at all. Live culture frozen yogurt maintains the cultures benefits because freezing only makes the cultures dormant and does not kill them. When people eat frozen yogurt that was made with live cultures, the heat from their bodies wakes up the live cultures to provide the health benefits of regular yogurt.
Why Choose Live Cultures?
The live cultures in frozen yogurt break down the lactose in milk products during the fermentation process. This means that people who are lactose intolerant can enjoy a frozen treat and get the calcium from it without the uncomfortable side effects of stomach cramping and indigestion. Some products with yogurt in their name such as yogurt covered pretzels and candy, as well as some yogurt containing salad dressings, contain no live cultures at all.
There is preliminary evidence suggesting that live cultures in regular and frozen yogurt can boost your immune system, prevent osteoporosis and prevent gastrointestinal infections. There is even some evidence that live culture regular and frozen yogurt can help fight some types of cancer. More research is needed before frozen yogurt can actually claim these health benefits.
Live and Active Cultures Seal
Although The National Yogurt Association does not monitor yogurts and frozen yogurts they have created the voluntary label Live and Active Cultures seal. To be able to display the seal, manufacturers must submit lab analysis that verifies the culture levels in their products. The acceptable level for frozen yogurt is 10 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. That amount was agreed upon by research scientists who participated in studies of the health benefits of live cultures in yogurt products.
Research is still being done to determine what health benefits live culture frozen yogurt provides. However, since millions of people are lactose intolerant and don’t know it, looking for frozen yogurt with live cultures is a good idea. Those people who are lactose intolerant should definitely look for the Live and Active Cultures seal to help prevent stomach upset when they eat frozen yogurt.