I counted 24 different types of yogurt in my small local grocery store and there were at least five different flavours for each type. Add it up and that’s over 100 different yogurt choices!
No wonder it’s tough figuring out which yogurt to buy!
When yogurt first started appearing on grocery store shelves in the U.S. in the 1970s, we ate, on average, three 4-ounce containers per year. By the 1990s the average American ate seventeen 4-ounce containers per year. Personally, I eat an average of 1.5 cups per day.
That’s a lot of yogurt!
The Many Forms of Yogurt
Drinkable, squeezable, blended with fruit, fruit on the bottom, whole pieces of fruit mixed in, dessert like flavours, candy crunchies, soy based…what will they think of next?
The healthiest yogurt is probably the least purchased: plain, nonfat, organic with active cultures. I personally love the tart flavour, there are no added sweeteners and I can add my own mix-ins, like fresh fruit and granola. If you haven’t tried plain yogurt, give it a chance!
Types of Yogurt to Avoid
- Anything with sprinkles, candies or granola in a little container on top of the yogurt. The mix-ins are basically sugar and fat, meaning unnecessary calories.
- Smoothies and drinkable yogurt, which are a fancy way of adding more sugar. We should be consuming fewer sweeteners, not more, and should be especially wary of high-fructose corn syrup. Make your own smoothies using plain yogurt and real fruit for an honest-to-goodness healthy treat.
- Yogurt in neon colours that aren’t found in nature. Look for brands that colour their yogurt using natural fruits and juices and avoid those with any type of dye.
Say YES to These Yogurts!
- Plain non-fat organic yogurt. One brand to try is Stonyfield Farm, as their yogurts are either organic or all natural; neither variety contains artificial colours or dyes.
- Yogurt with the “Live and Active Cultures” seal, like Danone Activia. Such yogurt contains helpful bacteria that keep the digestive tract healthy.
- Vitamin D-enriched yogurt. Vitamin D is added to all the milk we drink, but not all yogurt manufacturers add it to their products. All Yoplait yogurts contain the vitamin.
Yogurt Label Reading Tips
Look for ‘skimmed milk’ or ‘yogurt’ as the first ingredient. After all, that’s what you expect you’re getting, right?
Pay attention to the serving size. Stonyfield, Yoplait and Danone Fruit on the Bottom come in 6oz containers, but Danone Activia is packaged in 4oz containers. If you purchase yogurt in a 32oz bulk container, the nutrition info is for an 8oz serving.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends choosing yogurt with no more than 0.25 grams of saturated fat per ounce (that’s a maximum of 1.5 grams of saturated fat per 6oz container) and no more than 5 grams of sugar per ounce (a maximum of 30 grams of sugar per 6oz container). Yogurts that meet these guidelines include Danone Activia, Danone Light ‘n Fit and Yoplait Light.
Compare calories carefully. Breyers Fruit on the Bottom in strawberry has 240 calories per cup, compared to 230 calories per cup in their Smooth & Creamy and 110 calories in their Light versions of the same flavour.
Yogurt labelled ‘light’ or ‘lite’ typically uses either sucralose or aspartame instead of sugar to cut down on calories. Some brands, like Yoplait Light, use both high-fructose corn syrup and aspartame.
High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to an increased rate of obesity, and there’s some research that suggests it may cause more weight gain than other types of sweeteners. As for sugar substitutes, some people can’t tolerate certain kinds, while other people just prefer a particular kind. Read labels to know exactly what type of sweetener you’re getting.
Miodrag Kablinovic is the founder of Miosuperhealth.com. A health blog dedicated to inform readers about nutrition, diet, fitness and health related topics. Miodrag is a passionate runner and Crossfit-fan. You can follow Miosuperhealth on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.