Is Yogurt a health food? Yogurt is one of those foods that is continually being referred to as highly nutritious, great for a healthy diet, a great way to boost your calcium level, terrific for supporting the immune system, and the ideal snack for people who are trying to lose weight.
But all yogurt is not created equal. There are dozens of different choices in any given supermarket, making it challenging to know which ones are truly helpful to your healthy lifestyle and which ones may as well be ice cream when all of their ingredients are taken into account.
Tips to Choose the Right Yogurt for Your Health
Fortunately, there are some very simple tips to follow to make sure that you’re buying a yogurt that will be a friend to your body, and not a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
- Buy plain – Plain yogurt is the best way to make sure that you are getting all of the benefits without any risk of added sugars or artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that will only negate any benefit that you receive through your yogurt. Of course, not everyone likes plain, so read on for more tips in flavored yogurt.
- Read the ingredients list and nutrition fact table – The shorter the ingredients list, the better. As is the case with virtually anything, the more ingredients there are, the fewer nutrients there are. Try to find a yogurt that has fewer than 150 calories per 6 ounces to make sure that the sugar levels aren’t too high. You’ll also want to find a product that will provide 35 to 40 percent of your daily calcium needs within an 8 ounce serving. Anything less than that and there are too many additives and fillers.
- Sugar – All dairy products contain natural sugars, but there is a big difference between those and added sugars and artificial sweeteners. Try to avoid those with artificial sweeteners altogether unless you are diabetic. In products that have fruit and sugar, aim for those with as little added sugar as possible. A decent range of sugar should be about 15 to 24 grams per 4 to 6 ounce serving.
- Live active cultures – The best quality yogurt will provide your body with live bacterial cultures – often called probiotics – to help to promote better digestive health, increase good cholesterol levels, and enhance cellular immunity. Look for cultures such as L Acidophilus, L casei, or B Bifidum, or at least the words “live active cultures” or “living yogurt cultures”.
These points should help to give you a head start toward finding the right yogurt for your best health.
How to Enjoy Healthy Yogurt
Many people struggle to eat yogurt the right way for health. After all, when you’re used to flavored yogurts full of sugars, the plain stuff can taste like you’re eating a bowl of sour cream. You can still enjoy this dairy product even if you have a sweet tooth and are used to those more sugary flavors.
Use the following tips to help you to enjoy yogurt in its healthy forms:
- Try different types and brands – Just because you try one type of plain yogurt, it doesn’t mean you’ve tried them all. There are many different forms and each one has a different flavor or texture. If you like a thicker and creamy texture, you may like Greek style. Slightly less thick is Balkan style, for example. Balkan style also has a slightly honeyed flavor, even without the addition of that ingredient. Texture and flavors can differ widely from one style or even brand to another.
- Add your own toppings – Just because you’re buying plain yogurt to be healthy, it doesn’t mean you need to eat it that way. You can add toppings such as berries, nuts and other high fiber and nutritious ingredients. Sprinkling some chia seeds, flax seeds or muesli on top can also be a great way to enhance the flavor, texture and nutrient content of this food.
- Add it to smoothies or smoothie bowls – If you just aren’t a fan of healthy yogurt or want something different for a change, make it an ingredient, not the feature. Scoop some into a blender, but then add some fruit or berries. Blend, and pour it into a bowl and top it with shredded coconut, chia seeds, almond slivers, and ground flax seeds. Or, thin it with a bit of water and add some of those aforementioned ingredients and blend it more before pouring it into a cup to enjoy as a smoothie..