The Ultimate Guide to Yogurt

Use our helpful hints and tips as you navigate the yogurt aisle for your favorite dairy treat.

Research is Key

Photo: Caleb Chancey

Research is Key

Sales are way up, and shelves are sagging with choices (Greek-style almond-milk yogurt?). But some are packed with fat. Get the low-down on the nutritional value of your favorite types of yogurt.

Artisanal Yogurt

Photo: Randy Mayor

Artisanal Yogurt

Small producers favor fewer preservatives, grass-fed milk. Prices are higher. Fat runs from none to lots: "Natural" doesn't automatically mean low-fat. Some niche producers are playing up the rich, cream-on-top angle. Read your labels.

Nondairy Yogurt

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Nondairy Yogurt

A hot category. Soy, almond, and coconut milks have less protein and require extra sugars to promote fermentation—as much as 16g. As with some dairy yogurts, plant-derived thickeners (starches, gums, etc.) are added to improve texture.

Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Big tang and thick texture kicked off the yogurt boom: Strained milk, with less water, has more protein and milk solids. Tangy doesn't mean extra-light, though. We saw 11g sat fat in one (6-ounce) version.

Budget Yogurt

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Budget Yogurt

Bigger containers only seem expensive. Unless there's a four-for-$5 deal on the small cups, you can get up to 32 ounces for the same price as three (6-ounce) containers. Bonus: They're usually plain with no added sugars—or calories.

Kefir

Kefir

Kefir is a more liquid and naturally effervescent dairy product that uses yeast in addition to bacteria for fermentation. It's good for smoothies, and the extra probiotics—as many as 12 strains (versus the 2 required in yogurt)—aid in digestion.

What to Look For

Photo: Randy Mayor

What to Look For

Knowing what to look for as you seek out the best yogurt is essential.

Protein: Keeps you full longer

Strained yogurts—like Greek and skyr—require three to four times more milk to produce than regular, meaning 15g to 20g more protein per 6 ounces (equivalent to 3 ounces of meat!).

Healthy Bacteria

Healthy Bacteria

The FDA requires at least two strains of bacteria in all yogurt, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus. Yogurt makers can add more. Look for the National Yogurt Association seal: It ensures 100 million cultures per gram (i.e., lots).

Low Fat and Limited Added Sugar

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Low Fat and Limited Added Sugar

For a calcium boost, look for low-fat yogurts. When fat is removed, calcium gets concentrated. Lower-fat yogurt contains more—30% of your recommended daily intake. Some calcium is lost in the straining process for Greek, but it's still a great source at 20%.

Six ounces of plain yogurt have about 12g of naturally occurring sugars from the milk. Fruit and honey add more. Kid-centric yogurts come in cute 4-ounce containers, but some have more sugar (as much as 17g) than "adult" 6-ouncers.

 

More Calories in the Morning

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More Calories in the Morning

If you're eating yogurt as breakfast, you'll need more oomph to keep you fueled until lunch—about 200 calories, but no more than 4g sat fat. Keep snacks less hefty—about half that.

Our Favorites

Photo: Randy Mayor

Our Favorites

Fage Total Plain 2%
"My daily breakfast companion. Add a handful of blueberries, and I'm set." —Sidney Fry, Nutrition Editor

 

Atlanta Fresh
"My hometown! I love the vanilla caramel. And pretty packaging doesn't hurt." —Rachel Lasserre, Art Director

 

Smari Organic Icelandic
"Nonfat, less tangy than some Greeks, creamy and light texture. Try the blueberry." —Scott Mowbray, Editor

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http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/ultimate-yogurt-guide-00412000081372/