Yogurt is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. And its popularity in America is booming—with the average grocery store carrying more 300 different varieties.
But the truth is, most of those products contain loads of added sugars and artificial ingredients that can HARM your health…not help it.
So, before you grab that cobbler- or pie-flavored yogurt—or even a zero-sugar or non-dairy option—let’s go over a few tips to help you choose the healthiest kind.
Successfully navigate that dizzying array of choices
Not all yogurts are created equal.
In fact, there are some specific varieties you should AVOID no matter how “healthy” they may sound:
- Yogurt with added fruit or flavorings. Make sure to avoid any type of yogurt with added fruit or flavoring—including supposedly “healthy-sounding” varieties like lemon, vanilla, or honey. Even though these products may seem healthy in all those TV commercials and printed ads, they actually contain loads of added sugars, artificial sweeteners (such as sucralose), or both. Just check out the label.
- “Light,” “fat-free,” and “sugar-free” yogurts. Like diet soda, these ultra-processed yogurt products contain artificial sweeteners (like sucralose), which you should always avoid. And these fake sugars pose MORE DANGER to your health than regular sugar! (Especially if you’re a woman or overweight.) Plus, these supposedly “lighter” varieties replace the good, natural fats found in regular yogurt with plant gums and thickeners. (But, like I’m always reporting, you want—and NEED—the real fat…because that’s where a lot of the health benefits come from!)
- Dairy-free yogurts. In recent years, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of dairy-free yogurt on the market. They’re often made from almonds, coconut, oats, or soy. But don’t be fooled—they’re just as bad for you as any other kind of ultra-processed food. Plus, IF these products contain any calcium at all, it’s probably artificially added. (And you already know how important it is to obtain calcium from natural food sources.) Now, if you suffer from a dairy intolerance, you may think these products can serve as a healthy alternative. But you may also find you do just fine with full-fat, plain yogurt—since it contains less lactose than milk. So I recommend giving regular yogurt a try first.
Okay—now that you know what to avoid, let’s move onto what you can (and SHOULD) safely put into your grocery cart…
The ONE tip to remember when picking yogurt
There’s one BIG piece of advice to remember when choosing the RIGHT yogurt to support your health…
It should only contain two ingredients: whole milk and active probiotic cultures. (Just look at the ingredient list.)
Whole milk is an excellent source of protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals—including calcium (which should come from your diet and not from supplements). And the active probiotic cultures support your all-important gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome (the environment in your gut where billions of healthy bacteria thrive).
Plus, this kind of simple, two-ingredient yogurt undergoes very little processing, which is key to good health.
I always opt for plain, full-fat, organic Greek or Icelandic yogurt, when I can find it. This kind of yogurt contains twice as much protein (and less natural sugar) than traditional, plain yogurt. Plus, it’s a little thicker and creamier—so it really tastes and feels like a healthy indulgence.
Now, Greek yogurt does go through a double-straining process—which removes some of the calcium. Still, just one serving of authentic Greek yogurt typically provides about 15 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of calcium.
So, if you have some plain Greek yogurt in the morning, just remember to have another serving of full-fat dairy with lunch…and then, some dairy and leafy greens with dinner. With that routine, you’ll get plenty of calcium into your daily diet.
And remember, yogurt isn’t just for breakfast. You can use it to make delicious dips for vegetables and sauces for your fish tacos, curry, or gyros.
To learn more about the many health benefits of full-fat dairy, check out the August 2020 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“Don’t skim the health benefits of dairy”). Subscribers have access to this issue and all of my past content in the archives. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!