With a wide variety of yogurt brands and types of yogurt on the market, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide which type is best.
According to the FDA, yogurt is defined as a fermented dairy product created from milk by 2 specific cultures. Plant-based yogurts are also fermented, but aren’t defined by particular cultures.
The Yes Health coaching team has compiled the reasons yogurt is so beneficial to your health and which brands to look for.
Yogurt provides a slew of impressive health benefits. It offers essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin D, which support gut health, immune health, and even a healthy weight.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report states: "Consumption of dairy foods provides numerous health benefits including lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity."
When choosing the type and brand of yogurt that is best for you, consider these essential factors:
Yogurts start with either Streptococcus thermophilus or Lactobacillus bulgaricus. However, these healthy bacteria do not survive pasteurization. If the product clearly states: "live and active cultures," these beneficial bacteria or others have been added back to support gut health. They can potentially lessen unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms and inflammation.
If you're new to yogurt (or any fermented food), start with a small amount and slowly work your way to a normal portion.
Yogurt may contain naturally occurring sugar from milk, known as lactose, or added sugars from honey, cane sugar, or high fructose corn syrup. Ideally, choose plain yogurt or options with less than 9 grams of added sugar. (The amount of added sugar is listed on the Nutrition Facts label.) You can add a natural sweetener if you'd like, such as a small amount of honey or maple syrup.
Yes Health Coaches recommend limiting artificial sweeteners. While they are calorie-free or low-calorie, most artificial sweeteners and sugar-free products can actually hinder weight loss. If you opt for a low-calorie sweetener, try going with a natural choice such as stevia or monk fruit whenever possible.
Check out this article for the ultimate guide to artificial sweeteners: https://blog.yeshealth.com/consumer/artificial-sweeteners-good-true
Protein is important for satiety and balancing blood sugars, among many other bodily functions. Some yogurts are higher in protein than others.
Traditional yogurt contains 8-10 grams of protein per 8 ounces. Australian yogurt is unstrained and made with whole milk, providing approximately 10-15 grams of protein per 8 ounces. French yogurt is unstrained and provides 6-10 grams of protein per 8 ounces. Greek yogurt is a strained, thicker yogurt containing approximately 15-17 grams of protein per 8 ounces. Icelandic, also known as Skyr yogurt, is the thickest type of strained yogurt and can provide 20-25 grams of protein per 8 ounces.
Stevia and monk fruit-sweetened options
Oikos Triple Zero, Dannon 2 Good, Chobani Zero Sugar
Any plain yogurt such as Chobani, Fage, Wallaby, or Trader Joe's brands. For flavored options, look for: Chobani Less Sugar, Siggi's, Icelandic Provisions, Greek God's Less Sugar, Wallaby No Added Sugar, Yoplait YQ, Chobani Complete
Plant-based options (lower in protein)
If you avoid dairy, you can still enjoy many of yogurt’s benefits with non-dairy options. Non-dairy yogurts tend to be lower in protein and the protein quantity can vary, so it’s a good idea to check the nutrition label carefully. If the yogurt you choose is lower in protein, try pairing it with another source of protein, like nuts.
Kite Hill Plain Almond Yogurt, So Delicious Plain Coconut Yogurt*, The Collaborative*, Siggi's Plant-Based Blend, Lava, Kite Hill Greek Yogurt (11 grams of protein per serving).
Well, there you have it! Everything you wanted to know about how to choose the best yogurt for your gut health, immune health, and more. If you're not a yogurt fan, you can benefit from other fermented foods for the same probiotic benefits, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, and miso.