SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 25 /PR Newswire/ -- Americans are eating more yogurt than ever before, and Dairy Council of California advises that consumers can benefit from even more culture.

Yogurt was named the food trend of the decade by Harry Balzer, vice president with NPD Group, a market research firm NPD Group.

"It's very convenient. It's very individualized," Balzer said of yogurt in a Jan. 1 interview with National Public Radio. "This is just for you. It's your own flavor. It has a health halo certainly surrounding it. It really does define what I think America wants from its food supply."

Plain or flavored, served in a cup, a tube or a tub, yogurt provides calcium, potassium and high-quality protein. Some yogurts are fortified with vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption and bone health. Yogurt also is a good option for people who have trouble drinking fluid milk. The "live active cultures" in yogurt feed on lactose, milk's natural sugar, making yogurt an excellent choice if you're lactose intolerant.

According to consumption research conducted by Dairy Council of California, families with children and adults in their 30s eat the most yogurt, with adults eating less in their older years.

There's plenty room for growth within the yogurt category, according to registered dietitian Andrea Garen.

"Americans have certainly embraced single-serving flavored and frozen yogurts, but plain, unflavored yogurt is still fairly foreign," said Garen, who also is a project manager with Dairy Council of California. "Yogurt is a versatile food ingredient used around the world, particularly in Greek and Indian cuisine."

Garen recommends traditional recipes like Chicken Souvlaki, Cucumber Yogurt Soup, Tandoori Chicken or Raitia for introducing plain yogurt in your diet. The tangy flavor also works well in salad dressings, dips and other recipes. Kids enjoy adding their favorite fruits like strawberries, mangos or bananas to plain yogurt sweetened with honey, maple syrup or vanilla.

For more recipes and information on the benefits of flavored and plain yogurt, visit the Meals Matter Web site at

Through a variety of nutrition education programs, Dairy Council of California promotes healthy choices from all the food groups and regular physical activity as the foundation for optimal health. Healthy Eating Made Easier.