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Nutrition 101: What Kind of Yogurt is Best?

July 1, 2019

Have you been down the yogurt aisle lately? It seems more kinds appear with each trip to the store. Variety can be a good thing, but it’s confusing when you’re trying to make good choices.

If your goal is to improve your health through good food choices, add yogurt to the top of your grocery list. Increased intake of dairy products provides many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Males are more likely than females to meet the daily dairy requirement of three cups, but most Americans are still falling significantly short.

Yogurt is certainly a star player in the dairy category, being a good source of nutrients such as calcium, potassium and vitamin D. These are three of the four nutrients labeled as public health concerns by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Yogurt is also a good source of protein, and it contributes to muscle and bone strength.

One of the recent food trends is full-fat dairy products. The increase these are simply due to consumer demand as more Americans are choosing higher fat fad diets such as the ketogenic diet. Some believe full-fat dairy products are more satisfying, so you are likely to reduce overall consumption. Even so, fat in dairy is a significant source of saturated fat. The American Heart Association (AHA) is still recommending to limit consumption of saturated fats to less than 10% of total calories. For most Americans, that means less than 13 grams per day. Choosing low-fat dairy products is a good start.

With all these benefits in mind, which kind of yogurt should you choose?

  • Australian: Typically, this is an unstrained product, which makes it like traditional yogurt. It has a lower protein content and is often sweetened with honey. Because it’s made with whole milk, it has a creamier consistency.
  • French: This is thick and unstrained. Each yogurt is cultured for eight hours within the same glass pot it’s sold in. French yogurt is thick and creamy likWhat e Greek, but it typically contains more fat and less protein.
  • German: This is technically classified as a cheese, but it’s like yogurt in consistency. As a cheese product, however, it’s lower in sugar and higher in protein and fat than traditional yogurt.
  • Greek: This is a thicker, creamier yogurt strained to remove most of the whey. Due to the straining process, Greek yogurts have a higher protein content than regular yogurts. Look for low-fat or fat-free plain yogurts.
  • Icelandic/Skyr: This is a strained yogurt. It takes four cups of milk to make one cup of Skyr. Due to significant straining, Skyr is thicker and creamier than Greek yogurt but similar in protein content.
  • Kefir: This has the same tart, tangy taste of yogurt, but it’s considered a fermented milk drink. Strained kefir is also available in cups (like yogurt) but with more probiotics. Kefir can be found in full-fat, non-fat, plain and flavored varieties.
  • Plant-based: These yogurts give those with food allergies or intolerance an opportunity to enjoy yogurt again. Plant-based yogurts are found in soy, almond and coconut milk varieties. Almond and coconut-based yogurts are lower in protein content than traditional yogurt. Check that your plant-based yogurt has been fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Traditional yogurt: This is an unstrained product. That means it is lower in protein than strained varieties. Traditional yogurts can be found in full-fat, non-fat, flavored and plain varieties.

When choosing a yogurt, look for non-fat varieties to reduce your intake of saturated fat. Also, keep in mind the sugar content of the different yogurts. Many are flavored or come with mix-ins, which can significantly increase your intake of added sugars. Choose lower sugar options or plain, then add fruit to sweeten them. Not all yogurts are fortified with vitamin D, so check the label to make sure that yours does!

To learn more about how to eat healthy, contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or email us.

Discover more about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s outpatient nutrition services.

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