If you can tolerate dairy, then yogurt is a great food to include in your diet as it’s one of the few dietary sources of probiotics. Food manufactures however, have ruined yogurt by adding a ton of artificial ingredients to them. You may think of your yogurt as a healthy snack, but unfortunately that just may not be the case. Most of the yogurts filling the shelves in grocery stores are very processed with added artificial dyes (i.e Red #40), artificial sweeteners, other additives, and a lot of SUGAR. Yuck. This sugar is not to be confused with the natural sugar in yogurt and all dairy. All yogurt contains naturally occurring sugar called lactose. The average plain Greek yogurt will have about 5-6 grams of this naturally occurring sugar while plain regular yogurt will have around 8-11 grams. Anything above this number is most likely added sugar!
Yoplait: This popular yogurt contains 26 grams of sugar! The ingredient list includes added sugar, modified corn starch, and tricalcium phosphate (prevents caking and increases calcium content).
Stay clear of yogurt with added thickeners such as carrageenan, guar gum and modified corn starch. In addition, watch out for artificial sweeteners like aspartame. These are typically added to low-fat, fat-free, and sugar-free options to enhance taste. (I’d go for a full-fat yogurt if you can find one). Any sort of food dye should simply be avoided. Even vanilla flavored yogurt may seem like a safe choice but vanilla flavoring can easily add an additional 10 grams of sugar. As far as Greek yogurt, it doesn’t always equal “healthy.” Many Greek yogurts are also guilty of containing a lot of added sugar and other fake food additives. Greek yogurt does have a higher protein content because it is strained to remove the whey. A standard 6 oz Greek yogurt contains between 15-20 grams of protein.
So what kind of yogurt is best? REAL yogurt of course. Yogurt should only contain TWO ingredients: milk and live active cultures. Both Greek and regular yogurt are fine, whichever you prefer. I always recommend going for an organic plain yogurt or 100% grass-fed yogurt.
Choboni has a natural Plain Greek yogurt out. Ingredients: Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Cream, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Case
One of my favorite grass-fed yogurts by Maple Hill Creamery.
It’s always best to opt for plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. If you like vanilla, try adding a teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract. If you like fruit flavored yogurt, it’s always better to buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit! Raspberry flavored yogurt for example, puree fresh or frozen raspberries and stir into plain yogurt. It will not only be better for you but taste better too! I like to stir cinnamon into my plain yogurt. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and is also a blood sugar moderator. I also like to add chopped nuts to add a little more healthy fat and protein. Nuts are a better alternative to sugary granola if you like a crunch. Unless you make your own homemade granola 🙂 You can also try stirring in some organic almond butter or natural peanut butter.
Sometimes I also like to mix in some ground flax or chia seeds to boost nutrition and add fiber and omega-3s. There’s so many real food options!
What my yogurt looks like!
Get creative and enjoy!