Can you please tell me more about probiotics in yogurt?

Ask Peggy

Peggy Woodward, RD

Dear Peggy: I've heard that probiotics in yogurt are good for gut function, but I don't know a whole lot about them. Do probiotics provide the same benefit if used in a baked recipe or if the food is frozen? What about frozen yogurt? —C.B., Muskego, Wisconsin

Probiotics are one of the latest foods that claim to heal or protect, but can you believe the hype? These small organisms, found in yogurt, help maintain a healthy balance in the intestines. They can lose effectiveness if exposed to heat during processing or baking or to freezing temperatures. Manufacturers claim that they improve digestion and immune function.

It's generally accepted that yogurt with probiotics helps digestion in the lactose-intolerant, but the same hasn't adequately been proved for healthy people. Preliminary studies also suggest there may be some benefit for the immune system, but more research is needed.