Yogurt: Is one better than another?

How do I choose a Yogurt? There are more types on my grocery store shelf than I can shake a stick at!!

A huge variety of yogurts made from milk

  • Whole  low fat, non-fat
  • Flavored
  • Plain
  • Regular
  • Greek
  • Icelandic

Here are 3 types of plain yogurt (these also come in low fat and whole milk varieties)

Nancy’s Plain Regular Yogurt
Fage Plain Greek Yogurt
Siggi’s Icelandic Yogurt

Here is a popular brand of flavored yogurt:

    Tillamook Flavored Regular Yogurt
Nutrition facts for flavored yogurt. Note the sugar content; about 12 gm or 3 teaspoons come from ADDED sugar in a 3/4 cup serving.

There are also several varieties of Non-Dairy yogurts–soy, almond, coconut

How do you choose the yogurt that is best for you?

It all depends what you are looking for: probiotics, high protein, high calorie, low calorie, low protein, sweet, low sugar, or non-dairy….. There is no one “best” yogurt!

Yogurt 101:

  • Probiotics:

    • These are healthy bacteria that live in your gut; they grow in foods that are fermented–like YOGURT
    • They are one of the main reasons many of us eat yogurt.
    • Look for “live cultures” or “probiotics” on the label of your yogurt.
    • If you’re looking for probiotics, either dairy OR non-dairy types can be good sources
  • Calcium

    • Both cows milk and goats milk based yogurts are naturally high in calcium
    • Non-dairy yogurts have calcium added to
    • If you’re looking for calcium, read the nutrition facts label to make sure it has at least 20% of the DRI or 200 mg calcium per 6 ounce serving.
  • Protein

    • Protein content varies among yogurts that are commercially available
      • Greek and Icelandic yogurts, made from cows milk are the highest in protein (17-19 gm protein per 3/4 cup serving)
        • These yogurts are strained to remove some of the water and carbohydrates; they are thicker than regular yogurts.
        • Protein in a serving is decreased slightly in flavored yogurts as the fruit-sugar mixture has no protein.
        • Protein is slightly lower as the fat content increases as the fat portion of the milk has no protein.
      • Regular milk based yogurts contain about half the protein of Greek or Icelandic yogurts (8-9 gm per 3/4 cup serving).
        • The protein is still very good quality.
      • Non-dairy yogurts have less protein than milk or goat milk yogurts
        • Silk brand Soy milk yogurt has about protein per 3/4 cup serving
        • Silk brand almond yogurt has about 6 gm protein per 3/4 cup serving
        • Coconut yogurt has less than 1 gm protein per 3/4 cup serving.
    • If protein is what you’re looking for, choose a Greek or Icelandic Yogurt and stay away from the non-dairy yogurts
  • Sugar

    • Plain yogurts have only natural milk sugar in them
    • Flavored yogurts are sweetened with sugar, fruit juice, a little fruit, honey and/or high fructose corn syrup.
      • These make great treats or desserts that are far healthier than many other sweets!
    • If you’re looking to reduce added sugars, try flavoring your own yogurt
      • 3/4 cup yogurt + 3/4 cup fruit + 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar or honey is going to have about the similar calories but a lot less ADDED SUGAR than a typical flavored yogurt
      • You get the added benefitd of the vitamins, minerals and fiber in the real fruit.
      • You might find that you don’t even need the teaspoon of sugar or honey!
  • Need extra calories for weight gain?

    • Go with a whole milk yogurt when you need concentrated calories!
      • Plain OR Flavored
      • 130-180 calories per 3/4 cup serving for plain yogurts.
      • 180- 210 calories per 3/4 cup serving for flavored yogurts
        • Noosa® Yogurt is the highest calorie plain or flavored yogurt that I have found.
  • Trying to keep calories low?

    • If you want all the great things about yogurt, but NOT a lot of calories, choose a plain, non-fat yogurt.
    • Flavor it with fresh fruit and add the least amount of sugar or honey that makes it taste good to you.
3/4 cup plain yogurt + 3/4 cup mixed berries
  • Trying to avoid additives like gums, corn starch, sugars, and artificial colors?

    • Choose a plain yogurt that contains only milk and live cultures if you want to avoid additives!
    • If buying a flavored yogurt read the ingredients list to find out what is used to flavor, thicken or color the yogurt.

 

Fage Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt Ingredients: Pasteurized Skim milk and live Active Yogurt Cultures

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Siggi’s Plain Non-fat Icelandic Yogurt Ingredients: Pasteurized Skim Milk and Live Cultures
Nancy’s Plain Non-Fat Yogurt Ingredients: Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Live Yogurt Cultures

 

Bottom line: Yogurt is a healthy food for a meal, dessert or snack! Choose the yogurt that you like and that meets YOUR needs. If buying flavored yogurt, try to find the kind with the lowest amount of added sugar.

 

 

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