Overwhelmed when choosing yogurt? Lori Brizee of Central Oregon Nutrition Consultants helps out!When you are choosing yogurt, Lori stresses that plain is your best bet. Flavored yogurts often contain LOTS of hidden sugars. And we’re not talking about naturally occurring milk sugars, which you’ll find in plain yogurt and flavored yogurt alike. There are about 7gm of naturally occurring sugar in every 6oz of Greek yogurt, and 13 gm in every 6 oz of regular . Anything else is added sugar and thus, something that you need to watch out for.

Greek Yogurts are NOT all created equal

“Just like any other yogurt, flavored Greek yogurts contain added sugars. Additionally, check the nutrition label for protein content.¬†If you are looking for more protein, check out Plain Fage in 0% or 2%, for example, which have 23 grams of protein per cup. Not all brands are equal,” Lori advises.

Some of the Greek yogurts we looked at had less protein per serving than traditional yogurts. Bottom line: you have to read labels when choosing yogurt, let alone anything.

The bottom line--read the labels when choosing yogurt!Lori’s choices:
Nancy’s Plain Yogurt (12g of protein per cup)
Fage Plain Yogurt, available in 2%, and 0% fat (23g protein per cup)

What about Whole milk vs low-fat vs. non-fat yogurts?

Lori emphasizes that it’s really a matter of taste. Her bigger concern is with the added sugars in flavored yogurts.

We looked at a 6oz serving of Chobani flavored greek yogurt. It had 15g of sugar, about 6.5g of which are natural milk sugars from lactose. That’s about 1.5 added grams of sugar. “That’s a pretty healthy choice,” says Lori.

We compared that to a 6oz serving of Tillamook flavored yogurt, which packed a whopping 37g of sugar per serving! That’s a lot of added sugar!

What about “kid yogurt”?

While Lori agrees that yogurt can be an exceptionally healthy snack for children, she urges parents to read the labels before purchasing so-called “kid” or “baby” yogurt. Often, these super-sweet brands pack tons of added sugar. Instead, she suggests adding a bit of honey or sugar to plain yogurt and top with fruit and nuts.

How about probiotic content?

Taking probiotics to supplement your diet is a big trend these days. “Probiotics naturally occur in any fermented food. Our guts need healthy flora to operate. So yes, we do benefit from probiotics, especially if you’ve been on antibiotics, which wipe out everything–good and bad, leading to things like the overgrowth of yeast. Yogurt is a great way to get some probiotics.”

Here’s a great introduction to probiotics on NPR’s food blog, The Salt.