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Old 03-26-2008, 11:19 PM
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Harry Hirsute Harry Hirsute is offline
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Default Carbohydrates in Yogurt

I thought this was quite interesting. Even though this focuses on the role of yogurt in a lower-carbohydrate diet ... I think it might also apply to other diets that strive to keep blood sugar levels relatively balanced.

It turns out that when you introduce the bacteria that makes yogurt (this is also true of kefir) it eats up much of the lactose, thus reducing the amount of sugar in the final product.

This was confirmed by Dr. Jack Goldberg, co-author of the GO-diet and the Four Corners Diet, who has done extensive testing of fermented milk products. He found that up to 8 grams of carbohydrate are consumed by the bacteria in a cup of yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk that contains live cultures. Under ideal circumstances, this would reduce the 12 grams of carb in a cup of milk to 4 or so grams of carb.

How much carbohydrate can we subtract?

Two factors are involved in how much lactose gets eaten by the bacteria. First, you must determine that live cultures are in the yogurt. This does not mean that the yogurt was “made with” live cultures; by definition all yogurt is made that way.

If the yogurt says on the label that it was “made with” live cultures, you can bet that those cultures are not living now. After the bacteria are killed, the carbohydrate level becomes stable. So you want the label to say that the yogurt "contains" live cultures, with the names of at least two kinds of bacteria (and the more the better), such as lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus, or l. casei.

The second factor that makes a difference in this process has to do with how long the yogurt is left to ferment. Although the process continues slowly after chilling, the vast majority happens in the stage where the yogurt is kept warm. Most commercial yogurt does not ferment long enough for the maximum amount of lactose consumption by the bacteria.

Dr. Goldberg says that most commercial yogurt with live cultures has 7 to 8 grams of carbohydrate per cup, but that that amount will continue to slowly diminish over time, even after purchase. He also says that by the time the carbohydrate decreases to about 4 to 5 grams per cup, the amount stabilizes because so much lactic acid has been produced that the bacteria go dormant.

If you make your own yogurt, it may take as long as 20 hours to get to this point (depending upon temperature). Dr. Goldberg tells me that when he sees the whey start to separate, he stops.

Straining the Whey

More potentially good news for low-carbers: It turns out that most of the lactose in milk and yogurt is in the whey. Furthermore, it is easy to strain much of the whey out of yogurt, and at least one company, FAGE, sells strained Greek-style yogurt. To strain the whey out of yogurt yourself, put a coffee filter in a strainer or colander and put that over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight.

What will be left is sometimes called “yogurt cheese,” which has a consistency that can reach the thickness of soft cream cheese if enough whey drains off. This can be eaten any way you want or mixed with other ingredients for foods such as dips.

How many carb grams can you deduct for straining? There's no really great way to tell for sure, but FAGE Classic Greek yogurt claims it has 6 grams of carb for a 7-oz. serving. Another advantage to straining yogurt is that the concentrated yogurt has more protein per cup.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:37 PM
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well, this is good to know, since I have yogurt almost every day.

have you tried the Fage yogurt... OHHHH MYYYY...

it is like sour cream, it is so smooth. delicious. sinful. I would recommend it.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:28 PM
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Harry Hirsute Harry Hirsute is offline
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I haven't tried Fage ... yet. But, I tried straining some Horizon Organic Plain Yogurt (with an unbleached coffee filter). It's surprising how much whey (and water) drips out of the yogurt. What's left, after the straining, is probably a whole lot like Fage.
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:38 PM
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Thanks for posting this information, Harry. I had read something similar years ago but lost track of the source and have been looking for it ever since. It makes so much sense that the sugar/carb content would decrease in the yogurt due to being consumed by the bacteria, but all of the nutritional databases just use the info for milk - even the FDA one that is supposed to be the final word. Wish they'd wake up!
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:09 PM
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Great post, thank you. I've been on a very low carbohydrate diet since last December to manage my blood sugar levels (ref. "The Diabetes Solution" by Richard Bernstein, M.D. - www.diabetes-book.com).

I'm feeling so much better and have lost almost 30 pounds to boot - but it's sure nice to find things that I can fit in with my eating plan!

Thanks again,

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