This is one question I am frequently asked to answer and I can understand why. Navigating the yogurt aisle at the grocery store can be stressful. There are dozens of brands and variations of yogurt formulations. You’ll see mainstream brands like Danon and Yoplait and options like Greek yogurts, sheep’s milk yogurt, soy and almond milk yogurts. You can even find yogurt spin-off’s like kefir and lassi.
Before we get to which type of yogurt I recommend, let’s first take a look at why you should include yogurt in your diet and what an authentic, good quality yogurt looks like.
Yogurt is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria are known as yogurt cultures, of which there are a few varieties. Yogurt has been around for thousands of years and thus considered a “traditional fermented food” when properly made. The benefits of eating yogurt lie in the key word: fermented. It is through fermentation that our body gets vital probiotic strains that aid digestion, support gut-health and help fight infection (1). It can even help reduce cholesterol and aid in weight loss.
But here’s the thing . . . you need to be eating the RIGHT kind of yogurt products to get these benefits! Much of our commercial yogurts do not make the cut. The key component to any yogurt worthy of your spoon is the presence of live active cultures (verifed by reading the ingredients list and looking for words like L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, bifidus, L. paracasei).
Other components to look for when shopping for a quality yogurt are that it’s made from whole milk, or worse case, 2% (NO Fat Free products allowed!). Also check that there are no added sugars (or artificial sugars). Milk has some naturally occurring sugars, so what you’re looking for is an ingredients list that does not include sugar in any form. If you’re still with me, then Yes, I’m saying you need to buy plain, whole milk yogurt with live active cultures and then sweeten it yourself. Self-sweetening allows you to control the level and source of sugar. Fresh fruit, a teaspoon of raw honey or 100% maple syrup, even a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, are all delicious ways to customize your flavor profile while keeping sugar, artificial ingredients and calories in check. If you want to up your protein intake, then reach for Greek yogurt, which, when made authentically, is strained and creates a higher protein content and a thicker consistency.
My favorite yogurt is the homemade version I make, but for those times I need to purchase, my go-to brands are Wallaby Organic Whole Milk Yogurt, Siggi, Stoneyfield Organic Grass Fed yogurt and Organic Valley.
If you typically reach for Yoplait, Danon, Activia, or even Chobani, then it’s time to make the switch. The Cornucopia Institute has a rating sheet on their site that lets dozens of brands rated for the quality of ingredients including live active cultures. Here’s the link to see how your favorites fared.
(1) site source Dr. Axehttps://draxe.com/probiotic-yogurt/