The Real Scoop on Yogurt

YogurtWhen searching for a healthy snack option, a lot of people turn to yogurt. It’s true; yogurt is an easy snack that you can grab on the go. Unlike some of your favorite fruits that have to be in season, yogurt is available year-round. It’s packed with calcium, protein, potassium, and vitamin B. There’s even some research that suggests that regularly eating yogurt may actually add years to your life.

So what exactly is yogurt? It’s not quite ice cream and it’s definitely not milk. What gives yogurt its power-food status? Yogurt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk by yogurt cultures. Don’t let the bacteria put you off though – in order to make yogurt, the milk is heated to around 176 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off any harmful bacteria. Then the milk is cooled and the yogurt cultures are added to allow fermentation. The nutritional benefits of yogurt go far beyond that of regular milk and people who experience mild lactose intolerance can often consume yogurt without experiencing any negative side effects. A study published in 2005 by the International Journal of Obesity also found that the consumption of low-fat yogurt can promote weight loss due to the calcium found in yogurt.

While the benefits of yogurt are undeniable, it is important to remember that not all yogurts are created equal – some are much, much better for you than others. So with this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best (and worst) yogurts on the market today!

The Good:

    Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt – Greek yogurt has been garnering a lot of interest recently and it’s not hard to tell why. With only 100 calories and 7 grams of sugar and a creamy, deliciously filling texture to go with it, it’s no wonder why Fage is finding new followers every day. The best part? Fage yogurt packs a whopping 18g of protein – nearly double that of regular yogurts – making it a great way for vegetarians to get in their much needed protein! Chobani is another great Greek yogurt company. They also boast 100 calories, 7g of sugar, and 18g of protein.

    Dannon Plain Nonfat Yogurt – while Greek yogurt packs a wallop when it comes to protein, it can’t touch traditional yogurt if you’re looking for calcium. A six-ounce serving of Dannon Nonfat Yogurt contains 30% of your daily calcium needs. With 80 calories, 12g of sugar, and 9g of protein, Dannon Plain Nonfat Yogurt is a great way to get your yogurt fix while still getting the nutritional benefits

The Bad:

    Yoplait Original Strawberry Yogurt – with 170 calories, 14 of which are from fat, this is simply not the healthiest yogurt option on the market. The 26g of sugar aren’t exactly that great for you either and the measly 4.9g of protein is nothing to write home about. It also doesn’t quite make the cut when it comes to calcium either. With only 20% of your daily-recommended calcium intake, it’s not nearly as good for you as the Dannon option above.

    Stonyfield Farm Fat Free Chocolate Underground Yogurt – loaded with calories and sugary goodness (35g of sugary goodness to be exact), this yogurt makes a great dessert treat but not the best healthy snack. If you’re looking for a substitute for ice cream, then this is a great option. If you’re in the market for a healthy yogurt, however, try some of the choices a little closer to the top of this list.

The Ugly:

    Breyer’s YoCrunch M&M Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt – Pro-tip: if you see “M & M” anywhere on your yogurt container, it’s probably not the healthiest yogurt option. This particular yogurt is more like a dessert than anything else. With a whopping 190 calories, 40 of which come from fat, this yogurt is definitely not a diet-conscious choice. Other nutritional infractions? It only has 4g of protein, 0g fiber, and a staggering 30g sugar.

    Ronnybrook Creamline Plain Yogurt – this is the mother of all unhealthy yogurts. With 160 calories, 81 of which are from fat, and 5.0g of saturated fat, this is definitely a yogurt to indulge in. The protein is respectable (9g), the overall sugar grams aren’t too bad (12g), and the calcium is great (30% of your daily recommended intake), but the fat factor outweighs all of those benefits. If you’re looking for a healthy yogurt, look elsewhere.

If your favorite brand of yogurt wasn’t on this list, there are a few easy rules to remember when it comes to seeing how your own yogurt measures up. These are the five commandments of healthy yogurts:

    – Your yogurt should have no more than 200 calories

    – Aim for 4 grams of total fat or less

    – 30 grams of sugar or less is ideal

    – Strive to find yogurts with at least 6 grams of protein

    – Your yogurt should contain at least 20% (2,000 mg) of the daily-recommended value of calcium.

With these simple rules, you can make sure that your healthy yogurt option is actually healthy. Have a favorite yogurt that you’d like to recommend? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below!

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