Question: Why is yogurt considered a health food, other than it being a good source of calcium?
Yogurt is healthy
in many ways
Answer: Yogurt has many health benefits, bone-building calcium being one of them. Just one cup of yogurt provides one-third of the recommended daily allowance for most healthy adults. Calcium not only builds strong bones, but also strong teeth.
Yogurt also contains vitamin B12, folic acid and potassium. These vitamins and minerals make it one of the most nutritious, lowest calorie foods around.
Yogurt's live cultures aid in digestion and its binding properties can calm an upset stomach. When eaten regularly, those same live cultures can ease troublesome yeast infections.
Then there's the protein found in yogurt, and since protein eaten along with carbohydrates helps keep our blood sugar levels in balance, what could be a better, healthier snack food? A yogurt snack tastes terrific, and it gives us energy without causing a sugar crash.
Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition caused by the body's inability to digest lactose, or milk sugar. Most dairy foods can cause the ailment, but not yogurt. This is because the live yogurt cultures create lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose. Lactase also helps to digest fats and proteins.
When shopping for yogurt, read the label and make sure it contains live cultures. If it doesn't, you won't receive the same health benefits. Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt. Presweetened varieties, whether with fruit or other flavorings, can be high in sugar and calories. Sweeten it yourself by adding fresh or frozen fruit, toss some nuts and wheat germ on top, and you truly have a perfect snack, or even a light meal.
Q. Will I build muscle doing aerobic exercise?
A. The most efficient way to build muscle (technically known as hypertrophy) is to lift weights. Not only do you have to lift weights, you'll have to lift weights heavy enough to overload, and thus fatigue, the muscle.
Aerobic exercise is not physiologically the same as strength training, and the body adapts to aerobic exercise differently. Your muscles are definitely working when you do aerobic exercise, but because you're not working against a heavy resistance (weight), hypertrophy won't take place. During aerobic exercise, the muscle contracts many times against little or no resistance, but this process will not add muscle mass to your frame.
The primary reason people participate in aerobic exercise is to develop and maintain a healthy cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) system, and to reduce their risk for heart disease.
Weight loss and/or maintenance is also an important reason. Because aerobic activities have greater fat-burning potential than strength training, they help to ensure a healthier body weight, which also reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Aerobic exercise and strength training are both necessary if your goal is to have a truly fit, healthy body. They serve two different purposes; aerobic exercise burns fat and strengthens the heart, while strength training builds muscle and strengthens the bones.
Stephenie Karony is a certified health and fitness instructor,
a personal trainer and author of "Body Shaping With Free Weights.''
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