Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cultural Revolution Yogurt : Gluten-Free and Awesome!

UPDATE / F.Y.I: "Cultural Revolution" is now re-braned as "Kalona SuperNatural" from Kalona Organics (11/2010)

"Cultural Revolution" brand organic yogurt from Kalona Organics is my current favorite gluten-free yogurt for a variety of reasons, especially the fact that it is has a richness and natural creamy consistency that is outstanding, and this texture is complemented by really wonderful taste : all in a yogurt that is both Low Sugar and Low Carb (and low sodium too)! As I enjoy this yogurt for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, I feel that the nutrition and beneficial live active cultures are contributing positively to my overall health without introducing unnecessary sugar and sodium.

A quick aside here: Cultural Revolution currently does not specifically label their yogurts gluten-free, so I contacted the company and they provided a statement from the creamery that produces the Cultural Revolution yogurt (Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, WI) which indicates the yogurts are definitely gluten-free (see image below). Another bit of good news is that they are currently working to update their labeling to clearly indicate which of their products are gluten-free.

Cultural Revolution Ingredients
(Complete 5% Vanilla Organic Yogurt)
This yogurt really reminds me of some great European yogurts I encountered while in the United Kingdom a couple years ago, with its thick cream-top and gently marbled texture. It is made with organic whole milk and includes the rich, creamy butterfat that naturally contains vitamins A&D too. The ingredients are simply: Organic Cultured Grade-A Milk, Organic Cream, Organic and Natural Vanilla Flavors (Organic Vanilla, Evaporated Organic Cane Juice, Pectin, and Organic Lemon Juice) -- and the Live Active Cultures that include s.thermophilus, l.acidophilus, bifidus, and l.bulgaris (bottom line: an array of "beneficial bacterium" / probiotics to help improve your GI health!)

Cultural Revolution Organic yogurt is available in six flavors in both 2 percent (low fat) and 5 percent. Six ounce flavors include blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, peach, vanilla, and plain. Vanilla and plain also are available in 24 oz sizes. Cultural Revolution is the newest product from Kalona Organics. This true, European-style, organic yogurt uses only the freshest, most natural ingredients, and—here’s the revolutionary part—it delivers naturally sweet, creamy taste without all the sugar, carbs, calories and sodium contained in most other yogurts. In fact, Cultural Revolution has as much as 1/3 less sugar than other yogurts.

Yogurt Comparison:
Cascade Fresh vs. Cultural Revolution

Before encountering the Cultural Revolution brand yogurt, I was consuming Cascade Fresh (Feb-2017: now "Cascade Culture") Fat-Free Vanilla Gluten-Free Yogurt, which was pretty decent yogurt, though I found the sugar/carb content a bit higher than I would have liked. Cascade Fresh is not organic, but is simply labeled "all natural". Cascade has a simple ingredient-list and is full of those probiotics too: Grade A Nonfat Milk (with active cultures s.thermophilus, l.acidophilus, b.bifidum, l. casei, b. longum, b.infantis, and l.bulgaris), Fruit Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Natural Vanilla Flavor. Cascade Fresh actually have a wider-variety of probiotic strains, though I do not know what the difference for your GI tract will be with either brand.

Perhaps it is not a fair comparison from a taste-and-texture standpoint since I am comparing a full-fat yogurt from Cultural Revolution to a fat-free variety from Cascade Fresh, but they just happen to both be yogurts I have consumed and enjoy. For me, the Cultural Revolution Vanilla Organic Yogurt is a hands-down winner over Cascade Fresh Fat Free Vanilla Yogurt, but I cannot always locate the brand at stores near me. In fact, this seems a problem in general with non-mainstream brands... I cannot always locate Cascade Fresh either. But, when I can find it, I will definitely be consuming the Cultural Revolution brand for reasons stated herein.

Nutrition / Statistics
One of my biggest complaints with many (especially "big name" brand) yogurts on the market is the over abundance of added sugars. And the type of sugar is equally important: I absolutely refuse to consume any yogurt that contains high-fructose corn syrup : an ingredient that is blood-sugar unfriendly (to say the least) and absolutely unnecessary. Also, a yogurt MUST have live active cultures in it for me to consider it - otherwise I might as well be eating pudding. Both brands I compared meet my criteria for active cultures and no high-fructose corn syrup, and also has Cultural Revolution presenting with substantially lower sugar levels.

When performing my comparison, I normalized the nutritional-information for the two brands to a 6-ounce serving-size, since Cascade Fresh considers their serving size to be an 8-ounce serving while Cultural Revolution considered their serving size to be 6-ounces.

Cultural Revolution Vanilla 5% ButterfatCascade Fresh Vanilla
Fat (g):80
Total Carbs (g)
Sugars (g):1016.5
Protein (g)
Vitamin-A (%):80
Iron (%)
Calcium (%):2226
Potassium (mg)
not indicated
My Subjective Rating of Taste/Texture
(1-10 Scale : 10 being highest)

I have made this Cultural Revolution Gluten-Free yogurt an integral part of my gluten-free diet lately, as I find it not just pleasing to taste and consume, but it also seems to satisfy me for a nice long period of time after I eat it, and preventing me from feeling hungry and snacking when I should not. These are not just "empty" calories from my experience, but are rather a nice balance of proteins, carbs, and fats. And, the fact that it really tastes great just furthers my reasons for eating it regularly. I highly recommend the product, and hope you have a chance to try it yourself and enjoy it.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Probiotics to Cure Celiac?

Could probiotics and prebiotics lead to a cure for Celiac Disease? It turns out that scientists from the National Spanish Research Council in Valencia, Spain are researching whether dietary changes that include probiotics and/or prebiotics may help alleviate the severity of celiac disease for some patients.

I was just reading a summary news article about this Celiac research, and found it quite interesting how the researchers were essentially simulating, outside of the body, the human intestinal environment / mucosa - and the effects of gluten exposure on that environment with and without the presence of probiotic bifidobacteria (for a source of such probiotic bacterium, consider any yogurts with active cultures -- and, probiotic bacteria are naturally present in your intestinal tract and aid with digestion).

The summary findings of the study were as follows:
"According to a new research study appearing in the May 2010 print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, differing intestinal bacteria in celiac patients could influence inflammation to varying degrees. This suggests that manipulating the intestinal microbiota with dietary strategies such as probiotics and prebiotics, could improve the quality of life for celiac patients, as well as patients with associated diseases such as type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders."
This conclusion was arrived at after observations noted that bifidobacteria up-regulated the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines (which is a good thing -- reducing inflammation). It was also noted that this evidence could be the first step toward changing how celiac disease is treated and possibly prevented, but that (as always, and as we would expect of any real treatment possibilities), human clinical trials are necessary.

I have wondered for quite some time whether consuming yogurts with active cultures (like bifidus, acidophilus, bulgaricus, thermophilus, lactobacillus, etc.) would be helpful. Many persons with Celiac Disease, gluten-intolerance, or wheat-allergies, may also have some intolerance to dairy products - including yogurt. But, perhaps the dairy intolerance is due to an intestinal tract lacking sufficient levels of probiotic bacteria? If so, restoring that symbiotic relationship with these beneficial "bugs" in our intestines may help bring some positive outcomes with regard to minimizing the impact and damage of Celiac Disease.

Time will tell, and personal experiences will certainly vary... but, I found this research quite interesting. It is rather widely accepted that probiotics and prebiotics (like inulin e.g., - which we use in our high-fiber gluten-free bread recipes) already are helpful in many ways and with regards to many conditions (even diabetes), and if Celiac Disease can benefit from pro-biotics, count me in on the yogurt eating!