Is yogurt healthy?

How Healthy is Your Yogurt?

Yogurt has been around for decades, but with the advent of trendy new yogurts like Greek yogurt and skyr, the food has recently returned to the spotlight. It’s touted as a healthy snack that promises everything from a flatter stomach to better digestion. But just how healthy is yogurt, really?

With dozens and dozens of varieties to try — some of which contain as many ingredients — it’s hard to sort out the healthy and the not-so-healthy. Here are four things to keep in mind when choosing your yogurt.

1.    Main Component

It used to be that if you were lactose intolerant, yogurt was off the table — both literally and figuratively. Today, however, food manufacturers craft yogurts using soy milk, almond milk and even goat’s milk. None of these milk alternatives are necessarily healthier than another, but they do vary regarding protein content and calories. While an almond milk yogurt may be fewer calories than one made with cow’s milk, it will likely offer less protein, too.

Even if you can’t handle a big glass of milk or a bowl of ice cream, you may be able to tolerate yogurt. Many people with lactose intolerance can eat yogurt without experiencing any symptoms due to the presence of probiotics — more on those later — and because some of the lactose gets broken down before it hits your cup. So, keep the main ingredient in mind when searching for yogurt.

2.    Sugar Count

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of yogurt is the potentially excessive amounts of sugar. A few decades ago, the fat-free movement hit the food industry and, suddenly, everything from cookies to crackers was fat-free. The problem? Food companies replaced fat with sugar to improve the taste of their products, and they continue to do the same with yogurt.

It can be difficult to determine exactly how much added sugar is in your yogurt because it should also contain a decent amount of naturally occurring sugar — lactose. So, unless the food label lists added sugars specifically, you’ll have to turn to the ingredient list. Look for items like evaporated cane juice, dextrose, fructose and corn syrup on the food label — sugar goes by many names. Generally, light or fat-free yogurts are higher in sugar, so avoid them. The swap isn’t worth it.

3.    Protein Content

Have you been wondering why Greek yogurt gets so much positive press? It’s because Greek yogurt contains more protein and less sugar than the traditional yogurts you probably grew up eating. Once you grow accustomed to the slightly tart taste, you may be able to skip the flavored Greek yogurt and opt for plain instead, then add some fresh fruit. This will decrease your sugar intake, but you’ll still get the muscle-building power of the protein-packed yogurt.

Not only can the higher protein content help you stay fit, but it may also fill you up. Protein and fat, which is also present in Greek yogurt, work together to satisfy your hunger cravings. Skyr, a Scandinavian style of yogurt, also packs the protein without adding too much extra sugar, so it’s another healthy option.

4.    Probiotic Power

“Probiotics” is another buzzword that’s been swirling around in the healthy-eating realm — but what does it refer to, exactly? Probiotics are bacteria found in fermented foods, like yogurt, that can improve your “gut flora.” Essentially, probiotics may improve your digestion, which could influence other aspects of your health, according to early studies.

However, it’s important to note that a single cup of yogurt doesn’t contain enough probiotics to pack a potent punch. So, you’ll have to incorporate other fermented foods into your diet or take a probiotics supplement to receive the benefits of probiotics.

Now that you’re armed with a better understanding of yogurt and its ingredients, it’s time to go shopping. Find a high-protein, low-added-sugar yogurt that satisfies your breakfast or snack cravings. Bonus points if you go for plain yogurt and add your own natural flavoring in the form of fresh fruit!



This Women of Green guest blog is by Megan Ray Nichols. Megan writes about many environmental topics including, renewable energy, conservation and sustainability. She invites you to join the discussion on her own blog, Schooled By Science.


Women of Green is TURNING UP THE VOLUME of the feminine voice on the planet in order to create the world we know is possible.

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