Yogurt can be an incredibly nutritious food. It contains calcium, vitamin D and protein, and many brands contain probiotics. Probiotics are "good" bacteria that are similar to those already in your body. They provide health benefits by helping to prevent the growth of "bad" bacteria in your gut and encouraging a healthy digestive system. Some types of probiotics are linked with particular benefits, such as immune support or relief from irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
The newest yogurt flying off supermarket shelves is Greek yogurt. It's a thicker and creamier yogurt with a higher protein content because the yogurt is strained during production, which reduces its liquid content.
Helpful hints. Follow these tips to choose the cream of the crop.
--Watch the sugar. Yogurt, like the milk it's made from, contains natural sugar. However, many brands also add a tremendous amount of sugar. Look for those containing the least amount. For comparison, a serving of unsweetened yogurt contains about 12 grams (g) of naturally occurring sugar. Beyond that, the grams of sugar on the label probably come from added sugars. We recommend yogurts that contain 16 g of sugar or less (about one teaspoon of added sugar.)
--It's alive! To obtain probiotic benefits, ensure you're eating yogurt with an adequate amount of live and active cultures, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The National Yogurt Association created a Live and Active Cultures seal to help identify yogurts containing ample amounts of these cultures.
--Check for protein. Protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer. So, choose yogurt with at least 5g of protein per serving.
--Don't let them fool you. Watch out for crunchy mix-ins like chocolate and granola that can boost your calorie levels in lieu of nutrients.
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information