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In the pilot issue of Elysium Business Magazine we introduced Atanas Valev, producer of Bulgarian yoghurt in the USA. His company has been in the local market for ten years, selling his Trimona brand in hundreds of grocery stores and supermarkets. By Aneta Nedyalkova
Why can you define your yoghurt as organic?
It is very difficult to get organic certification. They examined us for eight months, checking if we meet the standards and where the raw materials come from. I felt as if I was being questioned by the police! No one else combines these elements: organic, whole milk, if it is for a whole milk product, no GMO, it is sour, it has a low pH, that is, low acidity, which means it suppresses the spread of pathogens in the product and is lower in sugar, so lactose-intolerant people can eat it without having problems, the specific cultures we use, the aroma, the taste. I can list more - the true viability of the probiotics, its 11- week shelf-life. We don’t put in anything extra, we just do it right, in a disciplined way and in a clean environment.
Do you sell the yoghurt in eco packages?
Our packaging is “half eco’’. Half our packaging is recyclable plastic, the other half is a cardboard sleeve. We also have printed recipes on the back.
What makes yoghurt healthy?
Nutritionists generalise these type of products as “dairy’’, and often advise people to avoid them because they cause inflammatory processes. But Bulgarian yoghurt is different. Our probiotics are alive for 11 weeks, as proven in a laboratory. In the yogurt we have more whey and A2 casein. 90% of the whey is in a liquid state, 10% is dry matter. The other part is casein, it is the consistent part of the yogurt. They both “work and live’’ in symbiosis. Whey has a very short lifespan, of about 15-20 minutes and acts very quickly to provide an initial energy boost. The other protein very slowly releases amino acids and gives energy. It also contains healthy fats, essential fatty acids which the human body does not produce and must obtain from outside.
How can a tub of yogurt improve the condition of a dynamic person, such as a businessman?
The yoghurt gives a boost of energy and keeps you full for a while. But it all depends on the person and his diet. If he has lactose intolerance I would recommend Bulgarian yoghurt because it contains lactase which dissolves lactose. We eat yoghurt because of its probiotics, calcium, healthy fats and proteins. But they have to be in balance and we need to know the quality and origin of the milk.
They say milk goes well with fruits or vegetables. Are these combinations healthy?
Let the fruits be forest fruits because they contain the least sugar, all the others have a high amount of it. This is for people who want to eat as few carbohydrates as possible.
Are there any carbohydrates in the yoghurt?
Yes. In one glass, there are usually 10g, five of which are lactose, milk sugar, the remaining five are degraded sugars. We are trying to explain this whole science behind it, to share it with the consumer, so he can be aware of what he is eating and balance his intake of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
When is it better to eat yoghurt, on an empty stomach or for dessert?
I would not say it matters. I personally adhere to a keto diet, which instead of glucose uses fats for fuel. The brain is cleansed, it does not crave sweets. It’s like changing diesel fuel to gasoline. I do not have breakfast. In the morning, I drink only two glasses of water. My first meal is at 13:00 and I always start with a glass of yogurt on an empty stomach. Then I eat bacon, 2-3 eggs, 1 avocado, and a bowl of green salad. Avocado gives healthy fats. It is not true that fat increases cholesterol. Carbohydrates cause inflammation and make cholesterol look like the villain. In the next 8-9 hours, I put nothing in my mouth except water and tea. In the evening, I eat again 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. Pasta, bread and rice are not in my diet.
Is there anything new you plan for your yoghurt business?
Yes, we are planning new products. We want to make Ayrans. Our other plans include selling different herbs, powdered spices that will go with the milk. We have not yet decided if they will be mixed together. But they are all extremely healthy as they are antioxidants and contain vitamins.
What does this yoghurt mean to you?
I will tell you only one thing. It is worth paying attention to the food your ancestors ate tens of thousands of years ago. This is a miracle food.