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8 Tips for Choosing Healthier Yogurt

Yogurt, especially the Greek variety, has skyrocketed in popularity in the last decade. This is good news. Yogurt is a wonderful food, whether for breakfast or snack. Here are a few things you should know in order to choose the best yogurt for you.

Tip #1 - Yogurt contains natural sugars All dairy yogurts contain a naturally occurring sugar called lactose. Each ounce of yogurt has about 1 gram of sugar. Thus, even a plain, 6-ounce yogurt will have 6 grams of sugar, equivalent to a teaspoon and a half.

Tip #2 - Most yogurts have added sugars Unless you buy "plain", your yogurt will have added sugars. This is unfortunate, because in many cases manufacturers add 2 to 4 teaspoons of sugar. To see how much was added, just scan the product with your Fooducate app., additionally, look at the sugars information in the product's nutrition facts panel. In fruit flavored yogurts, some of the added sweetness is from the fruit (blueberry, strawberry), but the manufacturer always adds a sugar ingredient as well.

Tip #3 - Stay away from artificially sweetened yogurts Some yogurts boast low calorie counts by using aspartame or other artificial sweeteners. Warning: some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may be harmful to your health. Additionally, their high intensity sweetness acclimates your taste buds to crave sweet, so that naturally sweet foods won't be as appealing. Lastly, artificial sweeteners may also be messing with your metabolism and insulin response. \

Tip #4 - Not all yogurts contain probiotics To ensure that the specific brand of yogurt that you're about to purchase contains probiotics, make sure that the label indicates live, active cultures. Read the ingredient list to see the specific bacteria strains used, as different types of bacteria are thought to promote different health benefits.

Tip #5 - Choose low fat or fat free yogurt However, watch out for unnecessary fillers and thickeners. Examples include: modified corn starch, locust bean gum, and gelatin. If you want a thicker consistency, opt for Greek yogurt.

Tip #6 - Greek style or regular is a matter of taste Greek yogurt is strained, which means it has a thicker consistency. Some people like that, others don't. Nutritionally, Greek yogurt has more protein per serving because it has much less liquid.

Tip #7 - Some yogurts use interesting ingredients for colors, don't freak out

Tip #8 - Non Dairy yogurts are also an option If you are lactose intolerant or vegan, there are good plant-based solutions for you. Whether almond, soy, or coconut, most of these yogurts include live and active cultures to aid with gut health. Watch for high amounts of sugar, or too many additives in the ingredient list.

Bottom line

Make yogurt a daily healthy food habit. Watch out for added sugars.

Supermarket Cheat sheet

  • Buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit or honey.

  • Read the ingredient list and avoid yogurt with aspartame, acesulfame potassium, or sucralose.

  • Choose yogurt with live and active cultures.

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