It’s hard to figure out which yogurt is the best to buy. There are so many options with enticing labels at the supermarket, and each one claims to be the best. The truth is that not all yogurts are the same.
It’s All Greek to Me: Greek Yogurts Win Hands Down
You often hear that Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as traditional yogurts. It’s also said that Greek yogurt takes longer to leave your stomach, keeping you feeling satisfied longer. Because there can be confusion with packaging — especially with the rise of “Greek-Style” yogurts on store shelves — make sure to check the nutrition label.
Choose nonfat, low-fat, and low-sugar brands. All-natural and naturally flavored options are always best, and make sure to choose brands with the lowest fat and sugar levels, but highest amount of protein.
QUICK TIP: Replace your sour cream with a plain low-fat (or nonfat if you’re trying to lose weight) Greek yogurt. It is just as delicious and is more beneficial to your overall health.
Probiotics: They’re Alive!
Ideally, you want to pick a yogurt with the highest amounts of probiotics, which literally means “for life.” Probiotics are beneficial bacteria strains that protect against harmful bacteria and aid in digestion. Make sure that on the packaging there’s a statement about “live and active cultures.”
Many probiotics are also beneficial in adjusting the microflora (the natural balance of organisms) in the intestines or by acting directly on bodily functions and several immune functions. They can help with common gastrointestinal problems like lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and H. pylori infection (a bacterial infection in the stomach and upper small intestine that can lead to ulcers and increase the risk of stomach cancer).
Some good news for pregnant and diabetic women: Yogurt with active cultures may discourage vaginal infections, which are common conditions under both circumstances.
The Beef on Low-fat Yogurt Protein: It’s as Complete as Eating Meat
Because the ideal low-fat or nonfat yogurt is made from skim milk, you’ll get the benefits of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving) with little of the fat. Not only that, but your body will benefit from other nutrients found in other dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
Yogurt also contains important amino acids, which along with proteins are the building blocks of life. The human body uses amino acids to make proteins to help the body break down food, as well as grow and repair body tissue. Amino acids can also be used as a source of energy by the body.
No Bones About It: Yogurt May Prevent Osteoporosis
“Adequate nutrition plays a major role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and the micronutrients of greatest importance are calcium and vitamin D,” says Jeri Nieves, PhD, MS, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes Hospital. Most yogurts are loaded with both. Some yogurts are even made with added vitamin D, which is especially beneficial for older people. “The combination of calcium and vitamin D has a clear skeletal benefit, provided the dose of vitamin D is sufficiently high,” Nieves stresses; 400 IU per day is considered adequate.
Heart Healthy: Yogurt May Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure
According to Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, a recent study found a link between dairy intake and risk of high blood pressure.
”We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more),” Alonso said.