NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
September 21, 2000
Not all germs are bad. That may seem an unbelievable statement if youve strolled through the store aisles containing cleaning products. Recent issues in food safety have prompted savvy marketers to promote products that wage war on germs. In most stores the shelves are lined with antibacterial products of all sorts. Beckoning us are antibacterial dish soaps, hand soaps and gels, window cleaners, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, and laundry detergents.
A walk through the toy aisle could net you some antibacterial toys, where the antibacterial agent is actually extending the life of the toys by protecting the toys from germs carried by children. Other possible product entries may be antibacterial socks and sandals. Some cars in Japan have antibacterial steering wheels.
Certainly cleanliness is important to good health, but are we going too far? The American Medical Association thinks so. The group recommended that consumers reduce their use of antibacterial products because these products may promote the development of strains of bacteria that may resist common antibiotics, leaving us with fewer defenses in the war against diseases. Some natural bacteria on our skin actually compete with disease-causing types, but the antibacterial products dont discriminate.
Studies have shown that plain soap and water go a long way in removing harmful bacteria, particularly when it comes to our hands. But you also need to scrub long enough. That means 20 seconds or the time it takes to hum "Yankee Doodle." Bacteria in food can be zapped by cooking to proper temperatures, using a food thermometer to gauge doneness. Chilling leftovers quickly and separating raw meat from ready-to-eat foods are other ways to deter bacterial growth.
So which germs are OK? Some food products are made using microorganisms such as yeasts, molds and bacteria. Bread, beer and wine contain yeast, and blue cheese contains a type of mold. Buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream and some types of fermented sausage are made with bacterial cultures that give the products their unique flavor.
Heres a quick and easy yogurt-based veggie dip thats great with carrots, celery, broccoli and peppers. It also makes a tasty topping for baked potatoes.
1 c. plain nonfat yogurt
1 c. lowfat salad dressing
1 Tbsp. dill weed
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 Tbsp. onion
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
Mix well and chill. Serve with fresh cut vegetables. Makes 8 servings, 1/4 cup per serving.
This dip might tempt even the pickiest of eaters to eat their vegetables. A serving of Dilly Dip (one-eighth of the recipe) contains 55 calories, 3 grams of fat and 70 milligrams of calcium. It also provides protein and riboflavin from the yogurt.
Yogurt is nutrient dense, with ample protein, vitamins and minerals compared to the calories it provides. A cup of plain lowfat yogurt contains about 415 milligrams of calcium, even more than the 300 milligrams present in a cup of milk. To cut fat content and boost calcium content in salad dressings or dips, try substituting yogurt for mayonnaise or sour cream.
Yogurt is available in many flavors and varieties. The fat content of yogurt varies depending on the type of milk used to make it. Yogurt also is available in bottled baby foods, in a new snack form in plastic tubes ready for freezing and as a beverage.
Yogurt may have some health benefits, too. Yogurt may help reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to some scientific studies. In one study, researchers found that eating yogurt with live cultures was associated with less risk for large colon tumors.
Yogurt is often cited as a food for those who cannot tolerate lactose, the sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance can result in bloating, gas and diarrhea in some individuals. Yogurt may be tolerated because the bacteria used in the production of yogurt breaks down the milk sugar. Be sure the yogurt chosen for a lactose intolerant individual contains "live and active cultures." As permitted by the National Yogurt Association, this statement means that there were at least 10 million cultures per gram when the yogurt was manufactured. Yogurt with active cultures can help restore the natural flora of the digestive tract, and some researchers think the cultures may even boost immunity.
Because of its unique taste and properties, yogurt has a special place in world cuisine. Tandoori chicken is often featured in East Indian cuisine. Ukrainians make use of yogurt (and beets) in borscht. And Egyptians and Turks feature yogurt in their cucumber-based sauces. Why not add some yogurt to your familys cuisine?
Source: Julie Garden-Robinson (701) 231-7187
Editor: Tom Jirik (701) 231-9629