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Most people in the health field will tell you that probiotic foods and drinks are great for digestive problems and general gut health. And while some might be ok with pill-form probiotics, there are much more delicious ways to get some gut-friendly bacteria. One of these is Yakult, a Japanese cultured milk drink. But you might be wondering: what does Yakult taste like?
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What Is Yakult?
If you’re familiar with kefir, another probiotic drink, you probably have a good general idea of what Yakult is. Yakult is a drink made with fermented skim milk and sugar. The bacterium Lactobacillus casei is used in the fermentation process. The finished product has a thin consistency, and it can be found in the chilled section of retail stores across the Asian continent and in many other parts of the world.
Yakult is often hailed as a health-promoting drink, and the relatively small bottle it usually comes in makes it a great choice for a quick pick-me-up; as we’ll see in a moment, the cultured nature of Yakult makes it a great choice if you’re looking to encourage natural antibodies and support healthy gut flora.
However, compared to kefir, Yakult has a good bit of added sugar. Yakult also only includes one strain of helpful live bacteria, while kefir includes many. In short, the sweet flavor of Yakult might make it popular with more people, but it isn’t the absolute healthiest probiotic milk out there.
Yakult has also been around for a while. In 1935, it was developed by Japanese microbiologist Dr. Minoru Shirota. Dr. Shirota’s company, Yakult Honsha, then introduced the Yakult drink to the world. Shortly after its release, Yakult was sold door to door by “Yakult ladies” in Japan.
It took some time for Yakult’s consumption to expand beyond Asia, as the drink wasn’t exported until 1994. Today, it is the most popular probiotic drink across the globe.
Yakult seems to only becoming more popular. It got a signal boost in 2018 when a Yakult bottle was shown on Netflix’s To all the boys I’ve loved before. The company share price went up almost 3% after that!
What Does Yakult Taste Like?
If you’ve never had Yakult or any other probiotic drink, it can be tough to imagine what Yakult might taste like. The Lactobacillus casei bacteria used in fermentation produce lactic acid. This produces the signature sour flavor found in probiotic drinks.
A plain Yakult drink will have a predominately sour taste — think Greek yogurt. However, in order to make it taste good, a significant amount of sugar is added. That gives Yakult a sweet-yet-tart taste that some people love, and others don’t.
Of course, many of these Japanese sweetened milk drinks come in flavors. Many are flavored like fruit drinks — orange, grape, and apple are all common. In these cases, you’ll get a taste somewhat like fruit-flavored ice cream with a hint of tart.
How Is It Made?
Yakult is a little more complex to make than other dairy products, so it may be better to pick up a Yakult bottle at the store than it is to make your own. Still, you might be interested to know how it’s made:
- The first step is heating skimmed milk with glucose to 90-95 degrees Celsius.
- The skimmed milk and glucose mixture is then allowed to cool down to 45 degrees Celsius.
- The Lactobacillus casei bacteria are then mixed in for 6-7 days. This is when lactic acid begins to form.
Does Yakult Come in Different Flavors?
So what flavor is Yakult? We mentioned above that plain Yakult has its own distinct flavor. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing it can taste like. This interesting drink comes in quite an array of flavors, although the flavors vary significantly based on company and location. In addition to the original flavor, grape, apple, and orange can be found in Singapore.
Though not flavors, there are two other varieties of Yakult that are good to know about. Yakult Light has reduced sugar and calories. Yakult LT is only found in Hong Kong. This variety has reduced sugar and higher fiber. The fiber content boost makes it a great drink for supporting digestive health.
Is Yakult Good for You?
Yes and no. Most people believe that the benefits of Yakult outweigh the drawbacks. Here are some of the health benefits of this probiotic yogurt drink:
It boosts the immune system — Probiotics, in general, can help to boost your immune system. This can help you fight off illnesses. Regularly drinking Yakult or consuming a probiotic can help you combat irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, eczema, and urinary tract infections. It may even reduce the severity of allergic reactions.
It increases the number of healthy gut bacteria — You probably know that the human body is full of live bacteria. Some of these are “good” bacteria that promote overall health. Others are “bad” bacteria that can cause severe illnesses. Though these two types usually stay in balance, a probiotic can help boost the numbers of “good” bacteria, so they help keep you feeling your best.
It may improve mental health and well-being — Some people claim that Yakult has a host of other benefits for mental well-being. It may help ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. And since some research links gut health to other aspects of mental health and physical health, this small bottle just might boost your mood!
It can reduce unpleasant antibiotic side effects — Antibiotic-related diarrhea is an unfortunate side effect of taking antibiotics. You might have heard health professionals suggest you eat yogurt while on an antibiotic. That’s because of the live and active cultures in it, and Yakult has plenty! It can also help to ease the upset stomach many people experience on antibiotics.
There are some drawbacks to the Yakult drink. The main one is the presence of many sweetening agents. Depending on how much you drink, you might reach an unhealthy level of sugar consumption. If sugar is a concern, you might be interested in light versions of Yakult. These versions have less sugar and fewer calories.
What Time of Day Should You Drink Yakult?
There’s nothing wrong with taking Yakult at any time of the day. But if you want to give the healthy bacteria time to work, drink it in the morning on an empty stomach. Do your best not to eat a meal immediately after drinking it — you’ll get the greatest health benefit this way.
Different Ways to Use Yakult
Lots of people drink this helpful little beverage by itself. And while the Yakult taste is pleasant enough on its own, you might want to mix thing up and try it a few different ways.
Fruit-flavored Yakult, in particular, is especially delicious in a fruit slushie. You can combine some Yakult and fresh fruit in a blender, add ice cubes, and blend. You can also make a refreshing Yakult lemon smoothie — just shake up some Yakult, lemon juice, and water. You can also blend this drink with some ice on a hot summer day. The tartness of the lemon will pair nicely with the tartness of the drink. If you prefer something with a sweet taste, add some honey or other sweetener.
If you like ice cream, give your favorite frozen treat a probiotic boost with Yakult ice cream. All you need is some all-purpose cream, some Yakult, and condensed milk. You can also add vanilla flavor or other flavorings if you’d like. Mix up the all-purpose cream in a hand mixer until it thickens, and then blend in the Yakult bottles and condensed milk. Freeze overnight, and it should be ready to go!
If you want to add a gut-healthy boost to your cocktails, try mixing soju with Yakult. If you aren’t familiar with it, soju is a traditional Korean wine made from distilled rice.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of Yakult’s endless list of culinary uses. Check out this great video if you want some more ideas on how to incorporate it into mixed drinks.
Yakult is a unique drink in that the manufacturers have discovered that the culture used to produce it can help your skin. Yakult Honsha makes makeup, beauty products, hair care products, and body lotions.
Finding New Horizons
Yakult is a great drink for culinary adventurers and those who want to cultivate better gut health. Whether you want a sweet, refreshing treat with less sugar than a regular smoothie or just want to experience something new, Yakult is definitely worth trying! It might even become your new favorite probiotic drink.
Still, need to answer some questions before you go out and try Yakult? Here are some of the commonly asked questions:
Why is Yakult so sweet?
Unlike some other probiotic drinks, Yakult is made with sweetened condensed milk. Skim milk is usually used, so its taste is more sugary and less fatty. Most types of Yakult use a significant amount of added sugar. But if you prefer a lighter taste, many countries have lower-sugar options available at most stores.
Can I drink Yakult directly?
Yes — most people will drink Yakult by itself. But you can also make it into smoothies, ice cream, and other treats.