There are so many yogurt choices out there. What was once a tiny section in the refrigerator section of the market is now an entire isle in most supermarkets! Are they all healthy? Are they all created equal?
Let’s explore different yogurt types and their health benefits a little bit deeper.
Types of Yogurt
The basic types of yogurt widely available today are:
This yogurt is unstrained, meaning that it still contains the whey, making it thinner than the newer styles of yogurt. It usually has more calcium and natural milk sugars than the other varieties.
This type of yogurt now makes up almost half of the yogurt sold in the United States. It is a strained yogurt which means that some lactose, calcium, milk sugars and minerals have been removed from the yogurt. The sugar and carbs remaining here are usually about half of traditional types. Although all of these have been removed, what remains is a much thicker yogurt that is higher in protein. One cup of Greek yogurt can contain up to double the amount of protein as traditional yogurt.
This is the thickest variety of yogurt available. It takes 4 cups of milk to result in just one cup of Icelandic yogurt, giving it the highest concentration of protein among yogurts. This is also a strained yogurt, but it also has the longest incubation period of all the yogurts. The result is a tart yogurt containing the lowest amount of milk sugars.
This yogurt is an unstrained variety made with whole milk, which leaves it creamy and with a higher concentration of fat than traditional.
There are now also many non-dairy yogurts appearing. They are cultured from such products as soy, coconut and almonds. They usually have calcium added to make up for the missing milk ingredient, so check for this.
Are All Yogurt Types Healthy?
Are all types of yogurt healthy? Some not so much.
Too much of goodies like fats and sugars and/or too little probiotic activity within the container can negate healthy yogurt benefits.
Below are some guidelines on what to check for when comparing yogurts.
Look for this seal (live & active cultures seal) for the yogurt choice to contain the highest amount of probiotics.
The healthier choice here is plain yogurt with 9 grams or less of natural sugar per serving. For flavored ones, look for 15 grams or less. Higher than 17 grams and it’s like eating a small candy bar.
Full fat yogurts are creamier and still healthy if you remember to account for the saturated fat in your total daily intake (which should be less than 7% of your total daily calorie intake).
Be sure to check the EatByDate yogurt (yoghurt) page for how to tell if yogurt is going bad.
For more on cultures, see our yogurt cultures post.
If your yogurt cultures have gone bad then check our yogurt substitute page.
If you’re thinking about the freezer for storage, see our freezing yogurt post.