How to Choose the Right Yogurt Every Time
By Alyssa Kessel, RDN, LD, Expert Dietitian
Yogurt, when done right, can be a great nutritious option. When done wrong, however, it can act more like a sugary dessert. If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by the yogurt aisle and the ever-growing list of options, then you’ve come to the right place.
I’m going to break down what all of those options really mean, along with some tips and recommendations so you can choose the right yogurt every time.
Greek vs. Regular
Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented. This fermentation process is what gives yogurt probiotics, which are the good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. The most common struggle we hear is the choice between greek or regular yogurt.
“Regular” yogurt is fermented milk, as mentioned above, and it’s this fermentation that gives the yogurt that runny consistency and sweet flavor.
“Greek” yogurt is taking that regular yogurt and straining it. That straining process is what sets the two options apart. The straining concentrates the protein and reduces the naturally occurring sugar (lactose). This is why greek yogurt is lower in sugar and twice as high in protein compared to regular yogurt.
If you’ve ever heard of “icelandic” yogurt, it is very comparable to greek because it goes through the same straining process. When making the choice between regular and greek (or icelandic) yogurt, I recommend greek yogurt. With the lower sugar and higher protein content, these choices will help you feel more full and satiated.
- Chobani’s Plain Greek Yogurt: This is a great staple item to have in your refrigerator. You can use this as a quick snack topped with some fruit or granola. It can also be used in baking, or even as a substitute for sour cream. Chobani’s yogurts are always made with non-GMO ingredients and live, active probiotic cultures that help regulate your gut bacteria.
- Siggi’s Icelandic Yogurt: Another one of my favorites that’s popular on the market and is known for not only having great flavor, but also a thick, creamy consistency and high-protein content.
- Fage’s Total Plain: This Greek yogurt is packed full of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Fage makes a couple different fat choices including a non-fat 0%, low-fat 2%, and full-fat 5%, which we’re going to talk about next.
Non-fat vs. Low-Fat vs. Full-Fat
This is another choice you’ll have to make in the yogurt aisle. Your decision here depends on what you want to get out of your yogurt.
Those full-fat options are going to have more calories because of the higher fat content and this could keep you feeling more full between meals, compared to some of the non-fat or low-fat options.
Low-fat yogurt often comes highly recommended by health experts because it has lower calories. This may be why you see more low-fat yogurts than non-fat or full-fat at the grocery store.
If you choose to go the non-fat (aka fat-free) route, I recommend adding a healthy fat of your own (click here for why this is important). Topping your yogurt with almonds, flax seeds, or chia seeds is the easiest way to do so. Check out my previous blog on nuts containing healthy fats.
- Low-Fat: Chobani’s low-fat plain greek yogurt
- Non-Fat: Oikos’ non-fat plain greek yogurt
- Full-Fat: Wallaby’s whole milk greek yogurt or Fage’s 5% full-fat Greek yogurt
Flavored vs. Plain
What sets these two apart are added sugars. Your plain yogurts are already naturally sweet from the lactose in them, but food companies often add additional sugars to make them taste even sweeter. The average yogurt can have anywhere from 18-25 grams of sugars. I’ve broken down some commonly-found sugar claims on your favorite foods in a past blog here.
If you’re not a fan of plain yogurt and would rather have a flavored yogurt, I recommend finding ones that have the least amount of sugar possible. Look for brands that have less than 12 grams of sugar per serving.
The healthier choice is obviously choosing plain, unflavored yogurt. You can always add your own healthy toppings to make it a little sweeter and give it more flavor. I’ll share some healthy recipes ideas for you at the bottom of this blog.
Recommendations for Flavored Yogurt
- Yoplait’s YQ: This has 40% less sugar than most leading brands and is packed with 15 grams of protein- it’s one of my personal favorites.
- Chobani’s Less Sugar: This is a newer line from Chobani. These average around 9 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. There are several great flavors to choose from as well.
Choose the Yogurt That is Right for You
As I mentioned before, it can be overwhelming walking down the yogurt aisle at the store. Hopefully, however, I’ve helped to make your next trip a little bit easier and stress-free. Based on the comparisons and suggestions above, decide what you’re looking for in your yogurt and make a personal choice based on that. That way, you’ll choose the right yogurt every time.
While there may not be right or wrong choices, there are definitely healthier ones. Strive for less sugar and more protein to get the most out of your yogurts. Check out some healthy recipes below for ways to incorporate yogurt into your diet.
If you have any questions or would like to set up an initial weight loss consultation, fill out our consultation packet to get started. We’d love to sit down with you to discuss your goals and help get your health back on track. You can also give us a call at 513-791-9474.
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